At PAL Editors’ Forum
Liberian journalists from Bomi, Grand Capemount, Rivercess and Grand Bassa on Friday, September 16, 2022, unanimously endorsed a proposed self-regulation manual on personal data privacy and protection for use by the Liberian media.
Developed by a team of lawyers hired by the Publishers Association of Liberia and the Press Union of Liberia in partnership with the Liberian Media Initiatives with support from the European Union, the document aimed at strengthening media professionalism and quality delivery of information while seeking to address challenges generated by online information campaigns.
The review was the first since the manual was developed. It follows series of Editors Forums conducted by PAL since July 23, 2021, soliciting journalists’ views on the subject matter and the need for a self-regulatory manual.
PAL with support from the Liberia Media Initiative, Co-financed by the European Union organized series of Editors Forums to review ethical practices within the Liberian media, especially regarding personal data privacy, and increase awareness on data privacy among editors and senior media managers.
Each of these forums brought together about 30 participants. To sum it up PAL and PUL collaborated to hire a team of lawyers to draft two documents: Media Self-Regulation and the Legislation on Personal Data Privacy Protection.
The goals and objectives of these documents fall in line with PAL objectives and are aligned to that of Internews programs to enhance freedom of expression and information, strengthening media professionalism and quality delivery of information while addressing challenges generated by online disinformation campaigns.
In addition, it is intended to set the agenda which would lead to advocacy for the Government to pass specific legislation that will address the protection of data privacy and advocate for the media industry to pass regulations on personal data privacy.
The forum held in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County brought together stakeholders from newsrooms in four counties to first discuss the document which is expected to be circulated in newsrooms for use by journalists in the absence of a standalone legislation and proffer suggestions.
Welcoming the Association and other journalists at the City Hall in Buchanan, Buchanan City Mayor Moses D. Hayes proxy expressed the importance of being part of discussions relative to privacy and data protection generally.
PAL’s president, Othello Garblah explained that the goal of the document being reviewed aligned with the Association’s objectives as well as the Internews program to enhance freedom of expression and information.
He said the document aimed at strengthening media professionalism and quality delivery of information while seeking to address challenges generated by online information campaigns.
Garblah said it is hoped that the discussion set the agenda that could lead to advocacy so that the government passes specific legislation that will address the protection of data privacy and as well advocate for the media industry on the passage of legislation on personal data privacy.
PAL is a representation of owners, managers and editors of newspapers.
In 2021, the Association was sub-granted to roll out a discussion on the protection of personal data with the intent of developing the first media self-regulation for Liberia.
Meanwhile, the document review was led by Atty Lamin Kpargoi and it is expected to be validated at the Press Union of Liberia’s anniversary in Ganta, Nimba County by the end of the month.