I’ve stated on numerous occasions in some of my publications and through social media how disappointed I am with my former profession.
The media, the free press, given constitutional protection by the founders and pioneers of this nation to be the watchdog over the “grand experiment” that was and is Gambian longest tradition, is failing in its responsibility and, in my opinion, sacred trust and duty to inform the citizenry of the actions of its government.
The Gambia press is negligent and derelict in its duty. Shortly after founding the Missouri School of Journalism in 1908, Walter Williams wrote a code of ethics known as The Journalist’s Creed. I would be surprised if even a small majority of Gambian journalists have ever heard of it let alone read it or strive to work by it in their daily profession, though it available online for all to see.
How many walks by it daily without a second thought?
The Journalist’s Creed:
“I believe in the profession of Journalism.
I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of responsibility, trustees for the public; that all acceptance of lesser service than the public service is a betrayal of this trust.
I believe that clear thinking, clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.
I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true.
I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible.
I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman; that bribery by one’s own pocket book is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another’s instructions or another’s dividends.
I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service”.
I believe that the journalism which succeeds the best-and best deserves success-fears God and honors man; is stoutly independent; unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power; constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of the privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance, and as far as law, an honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship, is a journalism of humanity, of and for today’s world.
It isn’t perfect, but neither is the profession occupied by imperfect human beings. That, however, does not excuse the blatant disregard for most of the tenets of this creed by our current broadcast media, print media, and news organizations.
I challenge all who call themselves journalists, at all professional levels to read the creed and then perform a sincere inventory of his or her journalistic practices.
This country needs a voice it can believe, verify, and trust. Who will be the journalists to accept that charge? Who will follow the creed and all other ethical codes of conduct?
Please step forward. Now