Officials Implore West African economic journalists
By Joaquin M. Sendolo in Banjul, The Gambia
Although other Social Science courses that teach Politics are available for learning, two top officials including Ruby E. M. Randall, Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Mambury Njie, Minister of Finance of The Gambia have both described the Journalism profession as an indispensable tool for consolidating modern democracy and transforming society.
The two made the cohesive statement on February 20, 2019 in Banjul at the opening of a three-day seminar organized by the IMF for journalists of Anglophone countries of West Africa.
Dr. Randall, who gave the opening statement and welcomed the journalists, emphasized that the media’s role in driving the development agenda of any nation cannot be overemphasized and that, because the IMF is aware of this, it attaches serious importance to developing the capacity of journalists, specifically those reporting financial issues to report with fairness and objectivity.
She identified three roles she said are cardinal responsibilities of a journalist, namely: gatekeeper, score keeper, and watchdog.
“The task is peculiar that it must not be taken lightly, and this is why we have called you together here in Banjul and invited our knowledgeable partners from the Thompson Reuters Foundation to share with you their experience,” she added.
She indicated that reporting financial issues is not only about budget or following money, but reporting about those activities that aid the generation of the money.
Minister Mambury Njie on the other hand said, “Journalism has a very pivotal role to play in our modern society beyond its traditional role of news dissemination,” adding, “I must state without any fear of contradiction that, if our aim as leaders and policy makers is to transform our societies, then Journalism is a key tool to achieve this.”
He described economic and financial reporters as “effective liaisons between economists and financial experts and policy makers,” who he noted make economic policy decisions that affect the economic welfare of the people of their country.
In order for the ordinary people to understand the technicalities and jargons associated with economic and financial decisions, Minister Njie said, it is the responsibility of the journalists to do, which makes them important people in the development of society and democratic governance.
“But this is an enormous responsibility. So, in recognizing the importance of your role, it is imperative that we further equip you for the job, and impart the skills and knowledge needed to get the job done well,” Minister Njie said.
He said this step coincides with the responsibility the policy makers, him included, have to provide journalists with knowledge and skills that are needed to be translated into everyday parlance for the common man.
He further added, “If we want citizens to adhere to and support the policies that we as policy makers are formulating, then we must make sure that those policies are well articulated and explained to the citizens using simple terms that are easily understood by the public at large,” Minister Njie added.
He said this trend taken by the IMF is a way of collaborating with the Gambian Government to further capacitate the skills of Economic and Financial journalists in a meaningful and impactful way.
Participants for the seminar were drawn from The Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia. They comprise mainly broadcast and print journalists with experience in reporting economic and financial matters.