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INTERVIEW: Youngest newspaper editor talks press freedom, Sheriff Bojang and more
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INTERVIEW: Youngest newspaper editor talks press freedom, Sheriff Bojang and more

At 26 he is the country’s youngest newspaper editor. Read our interview with Sainey Darboe of the Standard Newspaper:

Tell us briefly about yourself.

Sainey: Sainey Darboe is a young man in the pen-pushing profession and works as the editor of The Standard Newspaper. I started work at Today newspaper just three days after my graduation from high school. I worked there for three years and rose to the position of sub-editor before I moved to Standard in quest of a new challenge.

I am a firm believer in democracy and human rights. I trust in the examination of the human condition to identify what is valuable and what is not; secondly to determine how to live my life in light of that knowledge for because the unexamined life is not worth living.

How did you become the editor of Standard Newspaper?

My current job as editor of Standard is a natural progression and culmination of my career as a journalist. My appointment to such a strategically important position in the company is a massive investment of confidence that comes with significant spheres of influence and responsibility. At first, I was unsure of my readiness for the job but with the support of Standard Staff and management am glad I took it.

What have been some of the challenges for you as an editor?

To get information from public institutions is a herculean task which makes it impossible to pursue and publish certain stories.

Do you have much contact with politicians through your role as editor?

I have pretty close relations with politicians from either side of the divide. Speaking from a perception of experience, I would characterize it as a relationship of mutual cordial loathing based as it is on highly tactical and limited convergence of interests.

How would you like to see Standard develop in the future?

Despite the fact that we are relatively new in the sector compared to other papers, we have made a huge impact in the industry. Looking forward, I would like to see XL Standard with its own radio and TV stations.

Tell us about your boss, Sheriff Bojang?

Of him I know one thing: he is a genius. Apart from being the best journalist of his generation in The Gambia, he is highly knowledgeable in many other things. He never ceases to amaze me with his vast knowledge ranging from politics, philosophy, economy, arts and religion. I could go on. Having visited over 67 countries, he is tolerant and easy to work with. Above, everything else he rewards competence and shun mediocrity. Enough about my boss (laughs).


Is it true the press in the country has been allowed more freedom than before?

Hard to say. There is a considerable degree of press freedom but unenlightened attitudes and interference in the work of journalists still persist in certain quarters.


We do write articles critical about the government and all would be well. That we were able to publish certain articles without gov't reprisal arguably constitutes one of the miracles overlooked by the Vatican (laughs).

Have you ever been arrested or called for questioning by the NIA?


Why should young journalist consider working for your paper?

Young people should work with Standard because it will not only enhance their professional careers but offer an opportunity to rise beyond the circumstances of their birth. With the right attitude and competence even the sky is not the limit but the beginning. As well as that we have a remuneration package for our staff substantially higher than industry standards. My boss believes that journalism is not a pact with poverty.

What are some of the things you find beginning journalists doing wrong?

I think they tend to go for sensational stuff rather than human interests aspects of stories which tends to do more harm than good. Journalism, many young journalist think is a cheap avenue to fame. Far from that, it is about promoting worthy ideals for common good.

We have many online newspapers now, run by political activists in the diaspora. Your take?

I have my take on them but I would rather keep it to myself to avoid the vilification that will certainly come with a frank assessment.

What’s your honest opinion about What’s On-Gambia?

I think you don't mind your business the majority of the time (laughs). On the flip side you have done a great job being a forum for young people creating awareness and healthy debate which we need to progress as a nation. You have a greater following than all the papers combined which deserves applause!

What book do you think every young Gambian should read?

Definitely Enter Gambia: Birth of an Improbable Nation by Berkeley Rice. Wonderful book on Gambia’s pre and post-colonial history written very matter-of-factly and with great humour.

Are you single?

I am in a relationship.

Who are your favorite Gambian artistes and why?

Kora maestro Jaliba Kuyateh is undoubtedly my star. I never miss his album launches.

What about the young artists?

I like Jali Madi loads with his amazing voice and thrilling lyrics. Manding More is up there too with his powerful afro-manding lyrics.

Any final words?

Just to say thank you!


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