By: Foday Manneh
A team of Gambian experts in law, journalism, and communications, on Friday, January 20, 2023, launched an organization called the Centre for Media and Civic Awareness (CMCA).
The CMCA was established in July 2022 as an independent, non-partisan, and non-profitable organization that seeks to ensure professional, independent, innovative, and economically viable media.
A co-founder of the center, Famara Fofana, said the organization aspires to consolidate and enrich engagements around rights to information, freedom, and sustainability of the news media.
“Our vision is a society where the media fully and actively play its watchdog role and citizens are empowered to demand justice, accountability, good governance, and accountability,” Fofana said.
The CMCA is self-mandated to build the capacity of citizens, especially young men and women, on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) and work with the news media to improve editorial quality, professionalism, freedom, and tolerance, among others.
The event also brought together practicing journalists and students from the School of Journalism of the University of the Gambia, and the Media Academy for Journalism and Communication (MAJaC), who were trained in public procurement investigation.
In light of this training, Mr. Fofana underscored the need for journalists to be armed with the knowledge, requisite skills, and techniques to uncover profiled procurement corruption cases in Africa.
He reminded the participants that their role as journalists goes beyond reporting the news but, most significantly, to impact people’s lives and livelihoods.
“We have become the voice for the voiceless and the source of hope for our people. But, unfortunately, some now consider funds and other resources meant for the greater good as the ticket to self-enrichment,” he said.
“Procurement irregularities in Africa have not only led to the diversion of taxpayer money in not just individual bank accounts but continue to deny people in need essential services and goods,” he added.
The CMCA also intends to partner with local stakeholders to develop a working and viable business and revenue generation model for the media.
“We will be reaching out and building collaborative relationships with entities like the Gambia Press Union and other like-minded organizations for the development of the media,” Fofana said.