Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, at the start of a two-day Media Development Conference in Monrovia under the auspices of the Press Union of Liberia, challenged Liberian media practitioners to be truthful and do away with deliberate ethical transgression in their reportage.
The Liberian President made specific emphasis on “blackmail and extortion”, currently characterizing Liberian Journalism, reassuring her administration’s respect for the media and its sustainability, including the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act of 2010. President Sirleaf told the conference in Sinkor on Tuesday, May 10, 2016 that accountability must be the hallmark of professional journalism, as much as they demand and must demand accountability from others.
While the President’s comments may not have gone down well, of course, with most of the participating journalists and media institutions at the two-day conference, it is no secret that the profession is being used otherwise, other than truth journalism. The reference may be attributed to the fact that at the core of current Liberian Journalism are ‘financial and political’ interests – and we must face the true reality.
While there are journalists who are either thriving or attempting to thrive on the path of professional journalism with the little resources at their disposal, there may be many others, without the passion and any conscience of ethical adherence, whose primary objective is to ‘fast-track’ cash generation using all forms of ‘intimidating tactics’ under the canopy of ‘Investigative journalism’ for personal aggrandizement.
The President may have chosen to engage participants at the start of the Media Development Conference the way she did, considering our conspicuous silence over the years on these ethical violations.s ‘watchdogs’, we have watched on for too long – either on the basis of fear or sentiments, without taking to task those who continue to ‘pollute’ this noble profession of ours.
While this attribution may not go down well with most journalists, a sober reflection on the President’s comments, as well as re-examination of our activities will better lead our consciences to the truth and reality for a change.
Also engaging the issue as we have done in view of the aforementioned, the President of Liberia and her government must also share a greater portion of the blame – the reason being that the very individuals who promote ‘blackmailing and other forms of bad journalism’ using the media as a springboard, are those favored by them in their PR and propaganda strides, without being cognizant of that fact “one who rides on the back of a tiger, ends up in the belly”.
In as much we do welcome the President’s comments and challenge to Liberian Journalism, we also challenge her and other public officials to help ‘curb blackmail and extortion’ by avoiding those they continue to favor on the basis of ‘inflated impressions’ and deal with the professionals.