Monday, 30 January 2012 11:20(JollofNews) – This editorial response to Foroyaa, the mouth-piece of the opposition political party in The Gambia called PDOIS, is coming late mainly because of the reluctance on the part of the editors of this medium to respond to a group of people who appear increasingly lost on their purpose.
Our reluctance is based on our initial pledge not to get drawn into the auto-destructive path of attacking fellow journalists, media outlets, regardless of their orientation, and in the process get distracted from attaining our objectives of fair, balanced and objective reporting.
Besides, Foroyaa and its political leaders do not deserve the attention it intends to draw by engaging us in a senseless debate, which in our view they intend to use as cover for not addressing the core problems and friction in their establishment that has of recent become public knowledge.
We have no doubt and we are sure the Gambian public too knows who is impartial in terms of respect for ethics, vis-à-vis editorial discipline, between us and Foroyaa. The readers will make their own judgment. Much as it is our policy not to engage our colleagues and partners in needless word wars, it is our obligation to speak up in defence of an innocent man, our own Abdoulie John, who is being victimised by the Foroyaa editorial team through their callous name calling and grudging attacks.
Let us also reiterate (even though it was mentioned in our article) that in the interests of fairness and right of reply, which is what ethical journalism demands, upon getting hold of your story ‘clandestinely’ John, acted in good faith by calling the managing editor, Sam Sarr. You therefore cannot claim victim as you had the perfect opportunity to give the right perspective to this story.
Yes, John worked for the Daily Observer. We don’t remember when it became criminal to work for the Daily Observer. Matter of fact, so have many of the current crop of young journalists. It is quite normal to see many journalists who tell you they worked for Observer, Point, Independent etc etc (mainly due to the lack of permanent staffing in our newspapers). So what if Abdoulie John worked for the Observer?
Or, is the Foroyaa editorial team mischievously insinuating that John left the newspaper only because of internal fights to make him look bad? You have failed miserably!
Matter of fact, by omitting the fact that Abdoulie John, was a PDOIS sympathizer (and that was no secret to everyone at the Observer), that from 1996 to 1997, John served as a PDOIS polling agent (at Bundung Mosque during the referendum, and at the Plaza cinema during the presidential elections) Interested parties could take this up further with the IEC for verification.
In 1997, as part of celebrations marking Foroyaa`s 10th year anniversary, Abdoulie John authored an article: "Foroyaa At The Crossroads", in which he outlined the way forward for the paper and urged Africans to follow the path taken by Halifa Sallah, Sam Sarr and Sidia Jatta.
The above facts, to the best of our knowledge, represent the truth and nothing but the truth.
Foroyaa and PDOIS can deny this if we are wrong. We assume though that with the words integrity, dignity, transparency being some of the most used publicly by the political leaders behind the paper and its editorial team, they should by now realise the injustice(s) they have meted out to Abdoulie John and other names they insist on publishing, all in a bid to smoke out the issues raised by Jollofnews in our article (authored by John), reporting on an imminent strike by Foroyaa reporters and making reference to a petition they had sent to the Foroyaa management. Vilifying John for doing his job will neither deter him nor serve to bully him into silence.
Unnecessary personal attacks that bear no significance to the story, or the reference to cyber terrorist has no bearing to the truth. The article made reference to things which happened at the Foroyaa and the reaction of the editorial board, in particular Halifa Sallah.
We were shocked that Halifa Sallah, who in seeking to reach out to Gambians will participate on chat shows in online media outlets, will turn around and attack those operating and writing for online newspapers as terrorists. Jammeh charges journalists for sedition when he is exposed, we assume a PDOIS led presidency will arrest and charge journalists with terrorism for unearthing some of the issues considered “internal, national secrets”???
Or is it that if you do not work with Foroyaa or share the ideology of the pioneers of the Great PDOIS you are not genuine? What happened to alternatives? What happened to divergent view?
Anyway, the fact remains that Foroyaa is registered as a company and as such should fulfil its responsibilities. If it fails to do so it will be mentioned, just the same way as Foroyaa as a newspaper outlet takes on national, private and other institutions when it feels they have abdicated on their responsibilities.
Another erroneous reference we must rectify is the assertion that Kemo Cham is seeking asylum. It beggars belief that in an article where Foroyaa is championing ethical journalism, it has made non-factual statements. One does not seek asylum in a country where they were born. Kemo Cham is currently resident in his country of birth, working, and soon will be attending university and is living as a normal citizen. We need not remind the Foroyaa editorial team that Gambians do actually have the right to dual nationality. Or, is it that this false assertion that Kemo is seeking asylum also is to further strengthen the mischievous intent of your reaction?
Unlike you, our response is not to give you lessons in morality or good journalism but it is certain that you cannot get the change you claim to be seeking this way.
Without seeking to personalize things, we ask the Foroyaa editorial team these questions. If Abdoulie John and Kemo Cham must not be trusted because they worked at the Daily Observer, what makes them any different from Sam Sarr`s own son (name withheld), who works at Banjul International Airport? And what about daughter, (name withheld), who works as a nurse attached to Sulayman Junkung Jammeh Hospital in Bwiam?
Despite all the noise about his ‘righteousness’ and pride of having on numerous occasions turned down any and all offers to work for/with and or be associated with Yahya Jammeh, is Halifa Sallah not married to a woman who works with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary education?
Having said that, the editorial team of Jollofnews wants to reassure the Foroyaa and PDOIS that we are not, and will never be interested in exchanging unnecessarily with them on personal issues. We would rather take our time to seek and to report on issues that are of concern, interest and beneficial to the Gambian people. We respect your right to disagree with the way JollofNews operates. That however is no reason for you to go attacking our personalities.
We at the Jollofnews are not under the illusion that we are perfect, neither do we think we are beyond reproach. We are also certain, that no one, not Jollofnews, Foroyaa or anyone else has the monopoly over challenging the status quo in The Gambia, it is our collective responsibility and we would be making more gains by accepting constructive criticism and by responding appropriately to the issues that affect the way we deliver.
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