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Publishers told to be guided by fact-checking

By Lewis S. Teh

The newly elected inducted leadership of the Publishers Association of Liberia or PAL has been urged to uphold Fact-Checking as the first rule of engagement, as media executives.

Central Bank of Liberia Executive Governor, J. Aloysius Tarlue, made the urge when he installed officials-elect of the PAL Friday, 16 December in Sinkor, Monrovia. The inducted officials will steer the affairs of the Association for the next three years.

Those officials inducted in office include President-elect, Othello B. Garblah, Vice President-elect, Sam O. Dean, and Abrahim Ansumana Donzo, Financial Secretary-elect, respectively. 

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The Publisher Association of Liberia represents owners and managing editors of newspaper publications operating in Liberia with a four-man leadership that includes president, vice president, secretary general, and financial secretary general, respectively along with several committee members.

Making brief remarks at the induction ceremony, Governor Tarlue calls on the elected officials to uphold ethical standards in the discharge of their duties.

He notes that the CBL could not have achieved the level of public credibility and trust it did without the media, stressing that given the critical role of the media in the Bank’s rebranding process, one of the first steps it took was to strengthen the capacity of the Communication Section to build a new partnership with the media community. 

As part of the reforms, he explains that the CBL also established a formal media engagement program with the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) through its famous public affairs program, ‘Money Matters’ and continues to patronize several newspapers in the country.

“We also continue to hold regular engagements with media executives on major and important developments about the CBL. I want to publicly state that these engagements have been remarkable and rewarding”, Governor Tarlue expresses.  

“We must commend you for this. The media has played an important role in the currency reform project, not only for educating the population on the new currency but also in managing public expectation.” 

He describes access to information as an essential element of democracy and free market economy, which cording to him, Liberia ascribes to, adding “In this regard, accurate, fair, and balanced reporting are important elements of the media ethics.” 

He says this is important because it helps to provide full information to the public in not only understanding issues but making the right judgment about those issues, which directly or indirectly affect their lives.

The CBL Boss praises the media particularly, the Publishers Association for exhibiting and upholding ethical standards, noting “We, most often, see sensational publications from some papers which are sometimes not substantiated before publication. This is not peculiar to Liberia.” 

He says the CBL itself is a victim of these sensational publications, but being a professional institution, it has always managed its reactions to these publications, bearing in mind that the Bank has nothing to hide. 

“However, we believe that fact-checking should be the first ‘rule of engagement’ because this is good for the integrity and credibility of the media community itself”. At the same time Governor Tarlue further underscores that while media ethics is crucial, the role of social media raises a specific challenge due to technological advancement. 

He says compared to traditional media, social media has a larger reach, is easily accessible, enables mass participation in public discussions and provides instant information. 

“Notwithstanding its positive impact”, he continues, “social media has most often been misused, thus causing negative impact on society. He says while it may be difficult if not impossible to stop this technological advancement, the need for some ethical standards to govern these activities is important.

In his inaugural speech, PAL President Othello B. Garblah extols the inaugural committee members for speedily organizing the program which saw them being inducted into office.

Mr. Garblah, notes that PAL has been in the vanguard for social justice, democratic governance, rule of law and exposure of abuse, waste and impunity.

He observes that since the incumbency of the Coalition government under President Weah, the Liberian media is lagging behind transformation programs after nearly two decades of peace, apparently due to donor misguided projects that were intended to empower the media to become viable in meeting present-day realities and challenges.

“The country’s economic environment is getting worst on a weekly basis, and the survival of any newspaper rests on its economic viability, emanating from adverts or commercial contracts”, Mr. Garblah laments, and adds “even the few adverts published, payments don’t come so easily.”

He reveals that PAL over the last few years has been working with some donor partners, including Internews, the Press Union of Liberia to come up with some self-regulatory framework documents for practitioners and a stand-alone draft legislation on the protection of personal data privacy.

The PAL President continues that as part of the Association’s plans for the next three years, the leadership intends to focus on ways and means of improving revenue generation scheme for newspapers something, he says will help in the improvement of their financial viability.

Meanwhile, Mr. Garblah discloses that PAL is holding discussions among its members to see whether it is possible to endorse a presidential candidate that publishers believe has the right platform to move Liberia forward.

Subsequently, Internews chief of party Lien Bach congratulates the Publisher Association for inviting the media development organization to grace the ceremony.

As we move forward toward 2023 elections, Ms. Bach points, “the media plays a crucial role in Liberia and that’s why Internews has designed a program aimed at training media practitioners to be more professional in their duties.”

She reveals that Internews is planning on recruiting about 20 journalists through the collaboration with the Publisher Association to work on modalities in having the journalists trained, adding, “We also want to support PAL for the supply of newspapers and develop a website hub for newspapers, but there are lots of things that we will be working along with the PAL for the growth of the Liberian media.” Editing by Jonathan Browne


The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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