Patriotism, in modern term, is generally regarded as the commitment/devotion of people to the general growth and development of a nation. Imbedded in patriotism are a number of practical concepts, including reconciliation, to keep a nation peaceful, united and progress at all levels of growth and development.And so, when Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf emphasized 2014 as a year of patriotism and reconciliation among all Liberians, her focus was the tremendous national benefits hatching out of the patriotism of Liberians. In other words, the issue of patriotism and reconciliation in Liberia during 2014 is not only the responsibility of our national leaders in the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches of Government (even though they must spearhead and guide the process), but also Liberians across the country’s 39,000 square miles. In her New Year Message, the Liberian Leader emphasized the great potentials with which the country was endowed, admonishing them that as a resilient people, they had the potential to rise above the challenges, truly unite and make their country the great nation that it is meant to be. Such challenge and admonition may, no doubt, be against the backdrop of the visible divisions at all levels of the Liberian society as the direct result of poor human relations, envy, corruption, bad governance, etc., perpetrated during the year 2013 by all Liberians.
Amidst all of these vices hindering national growth and development is the role of the Liberian Media. Conscientiously and admissibly, the role of the media in 2013 in Liberia was not only unsatisfactory, but non-impact-making in the process of promoting patriotism and reconciliation. While we may not want to delve into such negative nature that continues to infuse retrogression under the guise of ‘free press and free speech in the country’s reconciliation process at all levels, the need for rediscovery in the media’s role cannot be re-emphasized. Unlike its commercial posture arising out of selfishness/individual greed during the year 2013, the media’s role in 2014 must always be to report the truth and give an honest assessment of the day’s issues and events without fear or favor.
In consonance with the principles of good journalism, these reports must not only shift just to please an individual, private institution or government and negatively target others because of their commercial values as accessioned in 2013, but the general good of the nation- especially relative to enhancing true patriotism and reconciliation. It is no secret that we in the media-whether broadcasters, print journalists or whoever, best serve the public and nation by telling the truth, as well as allowing it to always be our GUIDE.
While we actually do not intend to denigrate the media sector to which we wholly and solely belong, self-assessment/criticism is always in the interest of good journalism and media development- the only way to determine prospects toward media vibrancy in Liberia. As the year 2014 progresses, the media in Liberia-whether Radio and Television stations, Community Radio stations, as well as Newspapers, among others, must begin to strike a balance and allow the truth to be their guide in the true sense of promoting PATRIOTISM and RECONCILIATION.