A member of the Liberian Senate, Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff of Montserrado County, recently disclosed to the public a communication from the Press Union of Liberia, PUL, seeking budgetary appropriation for media development in Liberia. Through whoever or however such communication reached the Liberian Senate, it was actually the current leadership of the Union.
While some well-meaning media practitioners rejected and continue to resist such request for reasons they’ve already disclosed publicly, through radio and television broadcasts and newspaper articles, others may be giving it a cautious welcome. These are all genuine concerns being raised by these colleagues of mine, owing to our inability or deliberate failure to work in the spirit of togetherness as a union and a important sector of the Liberian society.
Others, including me, may even be wondering as to why, in fact, is it necessary now to “beg” the Government of Liberia for money, when we had already resisted and branded its initial financial contributions/donations very negatively, as if we and the government wee not partners in progress. Some of us, since the disclosure by Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff, continue to even reflect on the reference made by current PUL President Abdullai A. Kamara, Malcolm Joseph of the Center for Media Studies and Peace-building, former President Peter Quaqua and others to the US$100,000.00 contribution to the construction of our modern headquarters by the Government of Liberia, through President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as BLOOD MONEY with ‘evil intent’ (and that it should be rejected/returned) and the US$300,000.00 budgetary appropriation being requested from the same Government of Liberia, this time through the Senate, as well as (perhaps) the difference between the two, even though it was the same government through separate means.
Now, if a hundred thousand U.S. Dollars under a George Barpeen Presidency of the PUL in 2008 was a BLOOD MONEY that was not good for the media/union, what makes a three hundred thousand U.S Dollars good and not a BLOOD MONEY under an Abdullai Kamara Presidency of the PUL in 2014 since it is the same government- the same source, despite where the amount is being sourced as revenues to support the budget?
I must state emphatically that this does not suggest that I, (and maybe, a few others with similar concern) oppose budgetary support to the PUL for media development in Liberia- no, not at all. This is something for which most of us have craved and hoped would one day come to pass, and that would not have compromised the independence of the media anyway- but the way we conduct ourselves as media practitioners at all levels; the way we relate to each other at all levels; and the way we’ve entrenched ourselves into divisiveness have got us the way we are today.
In other words, the envy/destructive jealousy, evil spirit, undermining, back-biting, corruption and over-all, the CRAB MENTALITY continue to hunt the growth and development of the Liberian media sector- and so, you see, our problem with us is us.
Take for example, since about six years now, not a single media “guru”, publisher, Managing Editor, station manager or group of media practitioners, ever thought about engaging former PUL President Peter Quaqua on either pursuing the US$100,000.00 headquarters injunction case in December of 2008, he and his team took to court to a logical conclusion or withdrawing same for resolution among ourselves as media practitioners; but the public mischief of former PUL President Peter Quaqua, CEMESP’s Director Malcolm Joseph and their likes was allowed to prevail over the image and interest of the Press Union of Liberia before a very gullible Liberian public.
Interestingly, all of the managers, editors, publishers, media auxiliaries-except for the leadership of the Reporters Association and Journalist E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor, remained either complacent or otherwise- perhaps, they too, may not have been interested in such a rewarding achievement or undertaking by a George Barpeen.
Sincerely, if there’s any “stigma” or whatever who may think about the media, regarding the PUL headquarters construction project and US$100,000.00 contributed by the Government of Liberia, through President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,, those who perpetrated such irresponsibility and stupidity out of mere envy/destructive jealousy and professional disorder, using one to two ‘half baked’ individuals calling themselves “journalists”, are to blame.
As a journalist, I had thought that one has to be well informed to inform the public about issues and events; but unfortunately that’s not the case anyway in contemporary Liberian journalism. I’m sure that had the issue of loyalty and narrow-minded sentiments not superseded the cardinal principles of journalism, including truth-telling, this whole issue about the US$100,000.00 and PUL headquarters project would have been done with, and that by now we, as a Union, would have been enjoying the comfort of our own domicile; again the CRAB MENTALITY robbed us of our success and progress toward media development.
So you see, media development was not important or good for us all during the George Barpeen Presidency of the PUL when the project actually began and was halted by a Peter Quaqua Court Injunction in December 2008 after assuming the PUL Presidency; no-no, it was not even important or good for us all when our brothers consciously elected to describe the President’s US$100,000.00 initial contribution as having an EVIL plan and later, a BLOOD MONEY and that it should be rejected/returned to President Sirleaf.
But today, under an Abdullai Kamara Presidency of the PUL in 2014, a US$300,000.00, through the Senate, is not only a BLOOD MONEY, but important or good for media development in Liberia. Again, not that I oppose annual budgetary appropriation for media development, I just thought to join others who have already expressed concerns about the latest move by the current leadership of the PUL to ‘beg’ the Government of Liberia, through the Senate, for US$300, 00.00 annually as a way of determining the kind of media we are in Liberia. And until we-I mean all media stakeholders- rise above the current divisive tendencies in our sector, the Liberian media will continue to selfishly fragmented into so-called media NGOs and other pseudo media groups that continue to only benefit a very few individuals and suppressing the growth and development of the media in Liberia.
Meantime, in part two of this article, I shall focus on the US$300,000.00 Request to the Legislature and the how-to-go-about it, even though I may not be knowledgeable about any consultations the PUL Leadership may have had with media stakeholders in the country.