Liberia’s first newspaper the “Herald” was established in 1826 by Charles Force and its first editor was Mr. John Brown Russwurm, both were slave owners. Both the founder Mr. Charles Force and the paper’s editor John Russwurm would be shaken in their graves today given the grim funding crisis faced by contemporary Liberian newspapers since the end of the Liberian civil carnage more than 16-years ago.
Despite these insurmountable financial obstacles faced by the Liberian media in the 21st century, there has been a steady surge in print media, radio, online mass media, television, internet, Facebook radio, executive mansion press and, MiCAP. Today, there are about over 40 print media institutions which include: “Liberian Observer, New Dawn, FrontPage Africa online, New Republic, Bush Chicken, Plus comprised the Liberia Inquirer, GNN Liberia, Monrovia Times, Smart News Liberia, Gossip Liberia, Liberian Dialogue, Liberian Times, Concord Times, the Perspective, and the TLC.” The television stations comprise “Clar TV, Power TV, Hot TV, Sky TV, Liberian Broadcasting System (LBS), and ELWA. According to a dependable media source in Liberia, only three print media institutions (New Dawn, Daily Observer, and Front-Page Africa on Line) out of the approximately 40 media institutions currently exist and are in print on daily basis in the entire country due to complex financial problems.
Though, Liberia claimed to be a sovereign democratic nation, but it got its feeble independence from a slave organization named: “The American Colonization Society (ACS) on July 26, 1847.” Since then Liberia had been struggling severely to live up to its democratic status that was definitively fashioned in alignment with the democratic culture of the United States in a very limited way. Democracy has a huge holistic and practical working package if it should be executed especially by an impoverished African nation like Liberia.
One such package is freedom of the press, and freedom of expression. In Liberia, this package is conspicuously being sidelined, ignored, and condemned by active Liberian politicians who claimed to be democrats since July 26, 1847. But in most instances, the government of Liberia sees the press as an enemy, as a result, most reputable newspapers are facing physical strangulation as being on perpetual death-roll.
It is even noted that some well qualified and professional newspaper editors, great and vibrant journalists who dispensed hard, impartial, un-bias, independent reportage, unique and indispensable news coverage are beginning to disappear gradually on the journalistic scene due to the Liberian government’s lack of interests in the existence of Liberia’s journalistic machinery and freedom of the press which is striving assiduously each day to survive financially and materially.
The GOL’s attitude is a societal disgrace to the existence of the Fourth-Estate. The GOL will need to know that the Fourth-Estate is directly an integral part of the Liberian society whose cardinal objective is to remain as an objective partner in progress and not a cooperative or fraternal partner in business as usual.
It is against this backdrop that the Political Hot-Fire is overwhelmed by the news of a reasonable remittance of $7000 US grant to: “The New Dawn Newspaper” secured from the Google News Initiative Journalism Emergency Relief Found (GNI JERF) according to sources. This extraordinary financial remittance is not only remarkable but commendable.
Besides, Political Hot-Fire will like to unleash its unconditional and profound sentiments to the proactive management team of (GNI JERF) for using its unique platform to spot the “New Dawn Newspaper over 9000 miles away from the U.S. situated in West Africa-Liberia to be specific and decided to remit a grant of US7000, simply puts into proper perspective GNI-JERF’s commitment as a true partner to journalistic growth and development in faraway Liberia which can be summarized as the financial rescue mission of our time in Liberia media history when media institutions are on perpetual GOL’s death roll, as many more are currently being strangulated slowly in modern Liberia.
This financial development couldn’t have escaped the thoughts and prayer of Political Hot-Fire but says hat-off to GNI JERF at the time when the Liberian media institutions are being placed in a compulsory valley of financial death due to lack of hard cash to keep the paper running on a daily basis.
GNI JERF’s financial undertakings remind Political Hot-Fire of the day and time when Jesus was born in Nazareth purposely to redeem mankind from their sins. This is indeed a huge symbol of a thoughtful entity like GNI JERF that will go down into the rough Liberia Media history.
Practically, it is the fundamental prerogative, constitutional, and democratic obligation of the GOL to create an enabling and favorable business atmosphere for the media to find its way around successfully—No one is advocating for the GOL to line editors’ pockets with taxpayer dollars. Political Hot-Fire is simply calling on the government of Liberia to create a conducive business atmosphere in which the media can strive to survive successfully.
There are endless testimonials that speak volumes to the fact that most newspapers are on perpetual death-roll heading to a cemetery sooner rather than later. This is while some level headed Liberian news professionals should have all thoughtful rationales to pay homage to GNI JERF for their tremendous to one of our kind. GNI JERF closing the financial hardship gap with “New Dawn Newspaper” in focus should be a strong message to the GOL to wake up and create a favorable and enabling business atmosphere for all Liberia’s media institutions to find themselves into business and improves on Liberia’s turbulence media development which would lead to the quick removal of most Liberia’s media entities from potential death roll across Liberia.
The pragmatic implementation of a free press is fundamental to the essence of democracy and the upliftment of civil society institutions in Liberia. If a free press is strangulated in a democracy like those in Liberia, then there is an urgent need for such democracy to be taken to the surgery room for quick revision of its growing problems for the survival of a free press across Liberia which is a MUST! A free press is also about supporting the press to survive financially.
This could be done in four meaningful ways: First, the GOL can make grants available to media institutions on a reasonable payment term. Second, the GOL should give media institutions duty-free privileges so that they can reduce cost on paper sales. Third, GOL should give all GOL’s ads to Liberian News media institutions across Liberia only. Taxes in newspapers should be removed or reduce considerably. GOL should make it mandatory for all Ministries, Agencies, and Commissions and Bureaus to subscribe to all the dailies across Liberia.
GOL should ensure that printing press machines should be qualified as one of those Liberian businesses and be limited to Liberians only. GOL should loan media institutions to obtain a printing press operated by them and the loan be paid back, and all media institutions should patronize said printing press across Liberia. GOL should ensure that no foreigner establish a printing press in Liberia or said be channeled through Liberian media intuitions.