As you may be aware, the Gambia Press Union, GPU National Journalism Awards Committee has for the past five months been maneuvering within a very tight space to plan for the National Journalism Awards 2020.

With the prevailing situation of the COVID 19 pandemic, we are operating under a very challenging environment. As a result of the ongoing State of Public Emergency (SOPE) and the partial lockdown requiring social distancing, we have been compelled to hold most of our meetings and other activities online, and you can imagine how challenging that it can be.

As we anticipate that the situation would persist by October 24, the scheduled date for the awards ceremony, our able Branding and Communications team have been working tirelessly on plans to hold a virtual awards ceremony as opposed to a physical social event, and it will be broadcast live on TV and online.

Therefore, as key partners whose role is quite vital to galvanize public awareness and support for the event, we count on your cooperation and support to make it a success.  

However, as this is quite a new venture that we are embarking on, we also need some financial support to make it work. In that regard, our Fundraising Sub-committee had has been engaged in a vigorous fundraising drive, but in view of the slowdown of economic activities as a result of the pandemic, the response had has not been quite encouraging. So far, only the EU Delegation has made a pledge to sponsor a Gold Award, and the GT Bank has also made a token donation. We however need a lot more pledges to successfully hold the event.

The Committee is therefore taking this opportunity to appeal to the private sector, NGOs and other development partners through your media platforms, to come forward and support Gambian journalists in celebrating their courage and resilience in reporting the news, sometimes under quite very adverse conditions. A good case in point is the risk they have been taking to report the COVID 19 pandemic, resulting in a large number of them being infected in the process.

To update you on the progress we have made so far; the entries which were open since July 1, will be closing in two days’ time; 31 August, 2020. I understand that we have received an impressive number of entries in the various categories, and they would be passed on to the panel of judges immediately after.

The panel of judges, which comprises of five eminent personalities with quite a lot of experiences and integrity, was recently installed, and they are ready and prepared to embark on their work as soon as possible. We are quite confident that they would deliver to our expectations.

Therefore, while the challenges for this year’s awards are quite enormous, the Committee, with your understanding and support, would do everything within our limited means to accomplish the mission with success.

We thank you for your support. We hope that this support will continue because we owe it to ourselves and our journalists to honour them for their work and to advance excellence in journalism in The Gambia.

I thank you for your kind attention.

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