London Met welcomes President of Gambia Press Union

Simon Cadman, Senior Lecturer in Journalism reports on the visit from Sheriff Bojang Jr, who spoke about his career and stereotyping of African nations in newsrooms.

Date: 4 January 2021

London Met Journalism was proud to welcome the President of the Gambia Press Union.

Sheriff Bojang Jr spoke to first year students about his career in broadcast journalism.

He is Foreign Correspondent for Radio France Internationale and has worked for Radio Netherlands and Wadr News.

Sheriff clinched a position on a new newspaper as "real journalism came to the Gambia for the first time," following his brother onto the Daily Observer.

"My father was a commercial driver and my mother was a housewife. At the newspaper I saw kids who looked like me, who came from working class families, and all the kids with bylines on the newspaper had fathers like mine, so I thought OK, wow, maybe this is it."

He trained himself to become a broadcast journalist after being forced into exile in Senegal in 2017, where his love affair with radio began and his international career took off.

When news breaks in west Africa, Sheriff is regularly used as a stringer by the Guardian. His portfolio also includes TV work for Al Jazeera, France24 TV and Africa24 TV.  In 2015, Sheriff was shortlisted by CNN for African Journalist of the Year.

Politics dominated Gambia when Sheriff was a teenager and breaking out of his working class background was difficult due to dominance of the best jobs by well-connected families.

Sheriff spoke about stereotyping of African nations by UK, European and US newsrooms: "Editors want to focus on the never-ending narrative of poverty, famine, sickness. This is always a problem. I warn editors, ‘If I cover this the way you want me to cover it, we are going to burn bridges, and I won't have access to these interviewees again.'"

Is it racism? "I wouldn't say it's racism. I know my editors are not racist. But there might be institutional racism."