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Editorial: Self-regulation, Not Blackout, ‘Publishers’

Just recently, the Liberian media landscape suffered a major embarrassment when a selected group of newspaper publishers and station managers, under the banner of the Publishers Association of Liberia made an unwarranted commitment not befitting of people who should be directing society.

Without being cognizant of their professional ethics and role in this crucial point in time of our country, the group of 12 ‘publishers and station managers’ chose to allow themselves to be led into the placement of a ‘media block-out’ on the Ministry of Information and Movement for Progressive Change or MPC for using invectives (or abusive languages) in their political exchanges.

According to them, the Ministry of Information is undergoing a month-long media block-out, while Mr. Simeon Freeman and his MPC were facing similar punishment indefinitely. We are even informed that the 12-man Publishers Association of Liberia, meeting at the home of one of the publishers in Paynesville at midnight, had no remorse of consulting their respective editors or team of gate-keepers before making such decision public, probably due to selfishness and fear.

While we wouldn’t want to delve into whatever motive and influence the hasty and partial action of our brothers and sisters of the Publishers Association may have had, we at the New Dawn-Liberia express our displeasure and disagreement in the strongest terms. While we and other well-meaning journalists in Liberia would not want to encourage or promote the use of invectives by politicians to propel tensions and violence during this political season, we also believe that self-regulation is the best way forward.

Just as we at the New Dawn-Liberia had decided as an official policy two weeks before the so-called ‘blackout’ not to promote conflict-prone news items, we had also thought that other newspapers and radio and television stations would have individually instituted similar measure to deter and guide our politicians to political decency in the process of voting  later this year.

By so doing, we believe, our role would better manifest itself, in terms of preventing violence before, during and following the general and presidential elections. Judging from current political vows and negative pronouncements by politicians and political parties with regards to the presidency and other political positions, the Liberian media must now be steadfast in playing a role to sustain the peace already on hand. “They have told us that they reside and work in the United States and elsewhere; and that they’ve come back to contest because they love and want to rebuild Liberia.”

For us, we have nowhere elsewhere, but Liberia as evidenced by what we went through during our civil crisis, including the 2003 conflict between April and August, and If the 12-man Publishers Association of Liberia is prepared to return to our country’s dark days for selfishness, we and other well-meaning journalists are not.

This is why we at the New Dawn-Liberia, again, sincerely reject the recent ‘news block-out’ announced by the Publishers Association of Liberia, and will continue to perform our responsibilities  not only in consonance with the principles of good journalism, but the concept of Peace-building and state-building.

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We also urged other well-meaning colleagues in disagreement with the ‘concept of greed and selfishness’ exhibited by our few brothers and sisters of the Publishers Association, not to fall prey to the whims and caprices of those in the constant habit of exposing our noble profession to public ridicule. For us, we remain available and open to all, but would ensure that only the issues are promoted as news and not INSULTS.

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