Omar Jarju

Fallaboweh-Have you kept your audinece and followership since moving to the Chronicle?

Omar- The most important thing is to maintain it, in fact it has increased, some people wanted to see my writing. Once you talk on radio, it goes on air and if the person doesn’t record it he will never have access to it, but articles are always available and can be easily accessed. In principle I took along those that were keen on my show.

Fallaboweh-There is lot of scrunity and criticism towards Gambia Sports Journalist, how are you and colleagues handling it?

Omar – Generations differ and our objective is to follow the footpaths and I think we growing along with sports in this country. There are lots of exposure of late. Because young journalist have access to travel now compared to before when Lamin Cham and Namorry Trawally used to travel, they only stopped in Senegal or the zone II but now we are having among our midst those travelling for world cup and so on. I am hopeful that we can take sports further because i have lots of hope in my colleagues. “Before you are being recognised globally, you have to be reconginsed locally”.

Fallaboweh- Have social media taken over radio and newspaper in promoting sports?

Omar – Traditional media(Radio and Newspapaer) surely have challenges, you can put a story on social media and it gets 500 views simply because lots of people are online but you can’t have that on print media. Radio remained widely listened to,  but print media in the Gambia is suffering and thats why they have also followed the trend to create their website and make their layouts accessible.

Fallaboweh- What challenges do Gambian sports media face?

Omar- I will speak for myself, its definitely not easy, it’s bumpy. Incredibly difficult to be a journalist. The market is not big to accommodate all. I could remember I spent one year with West coast radio before being staffed but I believed in myself and I believed journalism to be way forward for me. The board saw a prospect and gave me responsibility. I start to produce and establish my show. As a reporter you do four in one, basically you do four things at the same time, getting the news, editing, writing the script and presenting. It was time consuming and some media houses don’t even give journalists fare. You definitely need to have self-confidence and determination to make a breakthrough.

Fallaboweh- You were in Russia for the world Cup, 2018 tell us about your experiences ?

Omar – It was a learning course, went there under the ticket of WADR(West Africa Democracy Radio) , its very important to travell, because you got to meet people with vast experience. World cup is big and I gathered a lot and it changed my perspective in journalism.

Fallaboweh – Have you always wanted to be a journalist? Hmmm laughs, I wanted to be a solider.

Omar- I could recall during my grade nine classes, our english teacher was asking which career do we want to pursue. Some were saying Pilot, Nurse and doctors, I could vividly rememeber just two of us raised our hands and said journalist. Lucky enough i did my high school at St Augustine’s, we went to our english teacher then together with Ansuma Nyassi, Talib Hydra, Nfallay Fadera and few of us and told him we want to start a press club, thats how we revived the press club in 2008. The club grew and became very strong organ in the adminstartion of the school because it served as a medium between the staff and the students. In 2011 I joined West coast radio it was clear I wanted journalism and i knew nothing apart from been journalist.

Fallaboweh- Is West coast radio the same since you left?

Omar- I wanted to make a difference and more over to leave a legacy at West coast radio. Lots of individuals and personality like Baboucarr Njie, babaoucarr Camara, Bakary B Baldeh, Benjaim Wally Joof, Pascal Camara , Abdoulie Bah and Modou Lamin Beyai have passed there, therefore, it is not same as before. Even if a cleaner leaves her place at work we need a new cleaner. I had good memories and cordial relationship with the staff.

Fallaboweh- what advise do you have for the upcoming Journalist?

Omar- Our generation is obsessed with fame, we want to do something today and get the buzz and fame right now. That is a problem, you have to start from far before claiming glory. Everybody is urged to have a plan/target. You cannot sell your image., your work will rather sell your image. Its important to have a mentor/idol, otherwise you will not succed, you have to have objectives and targets.

Every year i used to have resolution and in 2018 my resolution was to go to Russia 2018, funny enough i shown it to ELIMANN Njie, he was surprised and burst into laughter and argue who will take me and how? I responded well thats what I want. Every day I work towards that and it was my biggest resolution.

Therefore young journalist have to manage expectations, let them start step by step and know everything in life is possible. DREAM BIG, WORK, WORK AND WORK HARDER let them strive for quality than saying me, me.

Fallaboweh- Is the new Gambia media opening their doors for sports development?

Omar – Will first like to talk about my new employer the Chronicle. West coast radio was big and huge and it means if am joining any media outlet it has to be of high standard and the chronicle ticked all those boxes. I did survey and counselling, I have no regret to begin a new career with them. It’s very standard and operates with high profession, our  policy and editorial rules i have not seen such in any media house even the story guideline. We work independently and everything is provided for us, we always learn from each other. It’s just exceptional and it gives me a lot of hope.

Back to your question, media chiefs in the Gambia don’t have interest in sports that’s where Peter Gomez has the edge over the rest  and he have the issues at hand, others have to follow suit. In pricnpt there is no structure in Gambian sports media and i think we should have a collective ambition. How can we use the media to convince the government to build stadiums, we don’t have to be negative all the time but we can educate them because they have a role to play? Just the other day, I was talking to John about coming up with a survey to see how Gambians pursue sport, is it for fun, or econimc gain. The media as a group should take bold step and we definitely have a role to play.

The cancer of some Gambian sport journalist is we are not up for the task, our problem is we don’t read, we don’t understand issues and thats why we get humiliated in some press conferences.

Fallaboweh- What work are you proud of most so far?

Omar – The world cup coverage, because the media under whose ticket I was representing  were happy and they appreciated the reporting and analysis. They weren’t surprised, though.

I did investigation in Power lifting, body building and weight lifting, these organ or bodies are separate but the gambia were having it under one umbrella and it could lead to a global ban. People down here didn’t know, made my finding and i brought a change and contribute something positive in Gambian sport am grateful.

Sport is not only in Banjul, Baku or Serekunda, will difintely want to explore other regions. The two awards I won, I won them covering stroies from the provinces Kafuta and kiang jiffarong to be specific. There are lots of stories down there.

This made me recall the very first meeting we had at the Chronicle, we want to dominate, we are not competing. We don’t just break news, we want the news to remain in the hearts of the audience.

Omar Jarju is a multiple award-winning sports reporter. He studied Journalism and Digital media at the Media Academy for Journalism and Communication. Omar has experience covering a wide discipline of sports including swimming, wrestling, handball, track and field, and football. In 2018, Jarju covered the FIFA world Cup in Russia

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