A relationship of creeping intolerance and animosity is gradually developing between the media and the Weah-led administration in Liberia, which if not checked, could harm peaceful co-existence and general stability here.
For some reasons, some officials of the administration are creating an impression that the media in the country is an undesirable element with a destructive agenda that should be aborted at all cost before it hatches.
But this is far from reality. Instead, we believe the media is a very serious partner in the socio-economic and political development of any nation, with Liberia being no exception. It is that instrument that mirrors society truly as it is, by portraying both good and bad that enable us to listen, take stock and correct the wrong.
However, what has been attaining of late in regards to how the media is being considered is not only disturbing, but worrisome. It all started when an overzealous deputy minister at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism openly lash at the media, specifically wishing poverty and other ill-wishes upon this key instrument that promotes democratic governance, political and religious tolerance, peace and unity and healthy debate or exchange of ideas in a non-confrontational atmosphere.
Not only that, Grand Bassa County Senator Youngblee Karnga Lawrence violently moved on legislative reporters, while in the line of duty at the Capitol. As if this were not enough, President George Manneh Weah in a joint media stake-out with the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General to Liberia Madam Amina Mohammed branded BBC Reporter Jonathan Paye-Layleh fought against his pro-human right campaign in Liberia by promoting violence and carnage during the civil war here.
Just last week, the third most powerful official in the Liberian government, Speaker Bhofal Chambers, ordered armed security officers assigned in his office to drag New Dawn Legislative Reporter Nathaniel Daygbor, out of his office. What was the crime? Reporter Daygbor asked for the Speaker’s academic credentials.
As a public official, Speaker Chambers should have known by now that everything about him, including his wife and children, food and dress code are of public interest, let along his academic credentials. There is absolutely nothing so private about a public official, and journalists are protected under the “Doctrine of Qualify Privilege” to query officials in their line of duties.
We believe Reporter Daygbor had not acted wrongly by asking the Speaker for copy of his academic credentials so; he did not deserve the humiliation meted out against him by Speaker Chambers.
With just barely three months in office, we call for a reversal of what is rapidly becoming a ‘cat and mice’ relationship between the government and the media. Lest we should forget, we need each other on the forward march to peace, reconciliation, prosperity and development. No democratic leader or government can thrive without a strong media.
Yes, because of its watch dog function, the media would most times disagree with everything the government does; it is our right and duty to question who, what, how, and perhaps critically why? This is necessary for the public good. The sooner we all realize this, the better it would be for the Motherland, our common patrimony.