Liberian broadcast journalist and CEO of the Infinity Broadcasting Corporation Aaron Kollie, is calling for mutual trust and confidence building between the media in Liberia and the security sector.
He dismisses claims that the media deliberately publishes negative articles or stories about the police with the aim of besmearing the institution, arguing that instead, the police always close their doors whenever the media goes to seek inquiry.
Mr. Kollie spoke over the weekend during a Media-Security Dialogue held at the National Police Training Academy in Paynesville to mark the 51st anniversary of the Press Union of Liberia. The PUL was founded on September 30, 1964 as an umbrella organization for practicing journalists in Liberia.
Also speaking, former deputy Information Minister and university lecturer, James Wolo,buttressed his colleague’s assertion that the security forces withhold information from the media.
Mr. Wolo, also an ex-director-general of the state-owned Liberia Broadcasting System or LBS, said police commissioners in the various counties should be able to speak whenever something goes wrong in their assigned area, but they usually refer journalists seeking information to the Liberia National Police Headquarters in Monrovia.
But police spokesman Sam Collins, insists the police will never bow to any pressure from the media, saying, the media writes articles just to tarnish reputation of the police. According to him, the media allegedly acts in the way because it feels are untouchable or above the law.
Publisher Rodney Sieh, said security forces riding government’s vehicle with RL license plate deliberately violate traffic rules by plying the opposite lane. He claimed officials are using cars that were donated to Liberia during the Ebola crisis for public transport and the police see those vehicles in the traffic, but do not arrest them.
He stressed that in order for the media and the security sector to have cordial relationship, the latter should invest in communication, adding that the security needs to see the media as a strategic tool in enhancing their duty.
Sieh said names of suspects wanted by the police should be published in the media to ensure prompt identification and arrest. “We are not fighting for popularity neither to be loved”, he concluded.
By Ethel A. Tweh – Edited by Jonathan Browne