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Improved Media and Government Relationship: A Recipe for vibrant democracy and peace

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War of words that earlier ensued between the Liberian government and some media practitioners which resulted to the pointing of accusing fingers at each other; should not be repeated because, the two parties are partners- in progress.

This partnership which is timely to create an open: social, political, and democratic environment, requires win-win approach that could be in the best interest of the country and her people.

However, the Liberian government has a greater role to play in cementing this cordial relationship that could help her disseminate news and information to people from all walks of life in Liberia and other parts of the world.

The establishment of a media empire (King’s FM-88.5, City FM, and Clar Television) by a well- celebrated and respected former football icon, turned President, George M. Weah in early 2000; speaks to the fact that his government should always push for more cordial relationship with the Liberian media.

It can be recalled that the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador employed qualified and competent broadcasters who propagated messages that informed, educated, and entertained large audience.

With such a brilliant idea that was formulated by Ambassador Weah in time past; which saw the vibrancy of his media empire, is welcoming, but he needs to actualize such formula presently; if media institutions should receive his government support regarding advertisements; which is the survival -point of every media entity locally and internationally.

Sincerely, this government headed by the people-center President, George M. Weah has made initial contributions to solidify the relationship with the Liberian media; which led to the resubmission of a friendly legislation that seeks to decriminalize media offenses.

The President’s action sparked mixed reactions from local and international groups, that lauded the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)’ led government, for making a serious commitment that seeks to uphold free speech and the press; which is enshrined in article 15 of the Liberian Constitution.

At the same time, it is an open secret that the Liberian media has an interesting history which looks as far back as 1826, that saw the publication of the “Liberian Herald” Newspaper which served as mouthpiece of the Liberian government.

However, in time past, the Liberian media and its practitioners were faced with harsh intimidation, suppression, and marginalization that printed negative picture on the image of past governments and their officials.

Restriction and cruel act allegedly exhibited by past Liberian governments and their officials have been changed because; presently democracy looks at the rule of law, human rights, good governance, multi- party democracy, among other valuable principles of democracy; which have taken center stage currently in Liberia.

On the other hand, the win-win approach that focuses on negotiation that is widely practiced should be embraced by the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led government and the Liberian media.

We are also aware that this government is on record of holding meeting with media practitioners and the Press Union of Liberia; when mixed views sparked between the two parties in March of this year (2018).

However, President Weah who is also a media owner has promised to work with the Liberian media and others, in promoting free speech and the press; which could help promote the much talked about pro-poor agenda for development and prosperity.

Although the President has made a commitment to protect the local media, and uphold democratic principles, however, his government needs to work tirelessly to ensure that the Press Union of Liberia (PUL)’ headquarters project is implemented before 2020.

I strongly belief, If that is done by the people-driven President, it could send a clear signal to the entire world that the CDC’s led government is democratic, and has added serious value to the operation of the Liberian media.

It is a clear understanding that the government and the media are partners-in progress because; the both parties depend on each other for survival.

The government is the biggest promoter and partner of the Liberian media relative to advertisements.

At the same time, the Liberian government depends on the media for promotion (publication and broadcasting of her information).

Therefore, let the two parties work together at all times; which might be in the best interest of the Liberian society and her people because; the country currently needs on everybody contribution for rapid improvement.

In a related development, the government needs to think about regulation that could encourage public and private institutions, mainly business houses to cultivate the spirit of prioritizing advertisement of their products and services.

If that is done, I strongly belief, media houses and their practitioners could be empowered, thus helping the local media to improve on it content; that might benefit the country and her people.

At the same time, disagreement should be welcomed or taken in good fate by the government and the media, on grounds that disagreement is another component of democracy, I stand corrected.

However, disagreement should not be misinterpreted that the government and the media or both parties are against each other, when controversial issues spark.

Finally, improved government and media relationship is timely, in adding more value to Liberia’s democratic and peace drive, void of self interest.

A continuous round-table discussion involving the Liberian media and the government cannot be overemphasized because; the two parties are partners-in progress.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here represent me, and have no association to any individual or institution, I have affiliation with.

The writer served as Secretary General of the Reporters Association of Liberia (RAL), which is the first auxiliary group of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL).

He also served as Secretary General-Legislative Press Pool (LEGISPOL) and now a Public Relations Specialist, who presents the only Tourism show on Kool FM (91.9) Every Tuesday and Thursday from 7:30-8:30 PM.

He covered the 2016 elections of the United States of America, and also represented the Reporters Association of Liberia at a convention organized by the Association of Liberian Journalists based in the Americas (ALJA).

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