Torchlight With Michael Scales: My Beef With Online Gambian Papers

Mscales(JollofNews) – Last week, some online Gambian newspaper editors weighed in heavily against the actions of the police during their standoff with the UDP at Fass Njagga Choi.

Taking the event into account from this distance, the officers of the law gave the matter its full attention, even calling upon the Inspector General of Police to reach an amicable solution from Saturday’s personal appearance. Whereas the UDP high command started the tour of villages without the required permit for a public address system, they now have the said permit and are allowed to carry on with their sensitisation engagements around the far reaches of rural Gambia. Gambian common sense prevails. So who are the winners and losers of this debacle?The online media’s portrayal of a substantial riot police presence was quickly enjoined by them suggesting to their readers that thousands of UDP supporters were on the brink of facing a “bloodbath”.Mscales
In fact, Foroyaa clarified that the UDP convoy only had five vehicles at the time and the incident only involved a few dozen supporters. To be honest, there were probably more police officers than UDP supporters. But the pro-UDP press were quick to use the standoff as an opportunity to appeal for funds to aid the supporters, who were seen sleeping rough, while the police gave the matter their attention to resolve the UDP grievances.
Much was made of Mr Darboe sleeping on a mat in some discomfort. This was clearly a great inconvenience for this senior citizen. The difference between President Jammeh’s luxurious lifestyle and that of Mr Darboe’s condition highlights the great divide between success and failure of political ambition.
Reading the many contributions from all the aggrieved stakeholders, all with their outrage, one is left with the conclusion that this was all a storm in a tea cup. The reaction was far greater than the event and it gives a desperate insight into the failing and continued ineffectiveness of the opposition’s cause. It also highlights the lack of direction from the dissident movement. There is no doubt that Mr Darboe and the UDP have gained a little credibility, if only by the thousands of words written on what was really an overblown none event. One could argue the lack of a PA system was more than made up by the overzealous reporting and good press given to what was labelled the UDP “stand off”. But would this be reflected in votes come the general election in 2016? I doubt it.
I read with interest Halifa Sallah’s take on all this in Foroyaa. He seemed a little bit laboured in how best to give some support, concentrating on the legal rights contained in the Gambian constitution. Taking the IGP’s part in all this and paying little regard to the many insults thrown at his portly figure, he achieved a good result for his office and for the president. It has proved that when common sense is applied to any given situation, the solution is never far away. For the online media to reach the highest marks for credibility, it must stay faithful to the facts on the ground and refrain from injecting a state of fear into the readership. To cry wolf when there is sheep around only leads to unnecessary panic. The online media must do better.


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