GPU Urges Gambia Government to Consider Public Funding for Media

GPU President Muhammed MS Bah

Every year, 3rd May is observed as a day to remind governments and other stakeholders of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It is a day for media workers globally to reflect on issues of press freedom and professional ethics. The day is also set aside to support media that are oftentimes targets of violation and abuse. 

This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of the Environmental Crisis”, is meant to highlight the significant role journalism plays in informing and educating the people on how the current climate and biodiversity crisis are affecting the environment and ecosystems and the impact it has on the lives and livelihoods of billions of people around the world.

“The significance of this year’s theme is an affirmation of not only the crucial role the media plays in informing and educating the public on the current global environmental crisis, it is a charge on governments to create an atmosphere for independent journalism, free of harassment, intimidation, and violence against it,” GPU President, Muhammed S. Bah, said.

“Independent journalism by any free press in a democracy has the capacity to shed light on environmental upheavals, and influence policy decisions that proffer solutions to the world’s environmental challenges by holding the government and decision-makers to account,” Bah said.

Environmental reporting plays an important role in uplifting marginalized voices, societies and indigenous communities, and spotlighting social injustices. With the ability to draw attention to unreported or underreported environmental issues, journalists strive to bring stories of social importance to the forefront and ignite conversations that can fuel positive change.

As we mark this Day, we would like to reflect on some of the important work the Gambian media has done in reporting environmental challenges which includes in-depth and well-researched stories on the extractive industries, the activities of fishmeal factories, overfishing and illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing activities.


Some other stories have also shed light on activities related to illegal timber logging and deforestation, including the most trafficked wildlife product, the endangered rosewood trees which were smuggled into The Gambia over the years for export to Asia before a government ban on exports in 2022.  


“These journalists have not only risked their lives to expose environmental issues affecting women farmers, in the case of unregulated mining activities, they have done so with very little resources and sacrifices to bring about meaningful action on pressing environmental issues in The Gambia,” GPU Secretary General, Modou S. Joof, said.

“Therefore, it is important for the Gambia government to make the promotion of independent journalism, media pluralism and the protection of press freedom a top priority by providing an annual subvention to the media in recognition of the public service and educational role of the press and its role in strengthening democracy and promoting good governance,” Joof said.

Discussions on the subject of subvention for the media featured prominently in recommendations from the National Stakeholders Forum earlier this year, and have featured in media chiefs’ meetings with the Ministry of Information recently. At the GPU, we hope to continue in this direction with the involvement of all media stakeholders, and working closely with the government to push forward this agenda.

A public subsidy that is content-neutral in order to safeguard independence is important as advertising revenues, the lifeblood for media houses in The Gambia, drops significantly – especially for independent media houses that are not owned by big corporations. It is particularly important to recognise that the media serves some inherent public good and for the most part, perform a public service role with limited resources by informing and educating the citizens on government’s policies and programmes and providing them the platform to participate and engage in informed discussions on a daily basis. 

Public funding is also essential in ensuring that the media is able to effectively and efficiently deliver on its constitutional mandate as provided for in sections 207 (freedom and responsibility of the media) and 208 (responsibility of the state-owned media) of the Gambian Constitution.


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