Recently, a group of reporters from a number of Media institutions assigned at the Executive Mansion on Capitol Hill accused the Liberian Presidency of segregation in determining who covers its activities. The group of reporters, Reporters Association of the Executive Mansion, also accused Presidential Press Secretary Cyrus Badio of being at the center of such partiality.
According to them, Mr. Cyrus Badio was always in the constant habit of selecting only a few reporters, including those from ELBC, Truth F.M and the News Newspaper to cover President Sirleaf, something they considered as hindrance to freedom of the press.
The Press Secretary was quoted in his response to a text message on a local radio morning magazine show as justifying that the five were the only institutions very effective in regularly reporting the activities of the presidency. But in a statement released recently, the group noted that Mr. Badio’s action was against the backdrop of the critical reports about the Mansion/presidency broadcast or published by the marginalized institutions.
Whether or not Cyrus and the reporters are both saying the truth, the issue of cordiality must always be at the core in any relationship between the office of the Press Secretary and Executive Mansion press Corps regarding coverage of the Liberian presidency. Imbedded in such professional relationship must always be mutual respect for the roles of the two, considering the Executive Mansion as a very serious and critical area of the public service.
While we may not want to be absolutely judgmental in the situation despite the fact that we may also have our own problem with Mr. Cyrus Badio, it is also important that we admit to the fact that our reporters do have some serious professional problems in discharging their reportorial duties.
It is quite understandable that coverage of the Executive Mansion entails the highest degree of experience/maturity, patience, punctuality, knowledge and responsibility as far as journalism is concerned, and as such reporters or correspondents assigned there must find themselves within the foregoing categories.
These characteristics, we believe, may just be too far from most of our young reporters/correspondents in today’s Liberian journalism-a behavioral pattern sufficient to discourage any news source. Being very cognizant of the ways most of our reporters/correspondents behave at base on assignments, we at the New Dawn-Liberia find it difficult to really intervene they way we should, in the recent row between reporters/correspondents assigned at the Executive Mansion and the Presidency/Press Secretary Cyrus Badio.
We do harbor the belief that with all of his problems, Cyrus Badio, being very much aware that the presidency needs an independent and balance coverage for the people of Liberia, would never choose to ravish his relationship with reporters at the mansion against the interest of the Liberian Presidency.
Perhaps what Cyrus and his guests (reporters at the Mansion) need at the moment is a meeting of the minds to thrash out whatever differences they may have so as to foster their relationship.
But frankly, we too, are to blame for the attitudes of our reporters who are just assigned because of favor, friendship or some sort of interest, and not on the basis of experience/maturity and all of the skills required to report about the Executive Mansion or Presidency, including their ability to interpret and make analysis of issues and events about the top most public service position in Liberia.
While we may not be against the growth and development of young journalists, we also do emphasize the need for us editors and directors to carefully take into consideration the issues of experience/maturity, the skills of making analysis and interpreting, as well as patience and responsibility before assigning reporters to the nation’s highest office to avoid some of the many problems encountered by our reporters and us while trying to inform and educate the Liberian public.
Once these factors are considered in the development of our various beat systems in our respective institutions, we see no reason why those we assign at the Executive Mansion or Legislature or Judiciary or elsewhere and those we cover would want to complain.