Representatives of the management and staff of Radio Gbarnga and Super Bongese, both of Gbarnga, Bong County, convened at the Sr Mariam O’Brien Center at the Development Education Network or DEN-L on 5th & 6th December 2014, under the guidance of the Press Union of Liberia, the Center for Media Studies & Peace Building and the Bong County Civil Society, with support from IREX/USAID, to resolve an outstanding confrontation between staff of both stations.
According to a statement issued here, the session brought together the contesting parties to restore public confidence in the work of the media; improve professionalism and strengthen cordiality and mutual cooperation.
The statement pointed out that during the dialogue, representatives of both stations outlined their expectations, including the need to end the confrontation, define preventive and corrective measures, as well as to track a way forward for peace, stability and cordiality. ‘The both parties outlined the issues that had offended [them] at various times in the past, creating an aura of distrust, breaking community confidence, including violation of media ethics,’ the statement noted.
In a review of the issues, it noted that both stations had relied upon rumors to develop claims against each other, and staff from both stations flouted basic media ethics, including various sections of the Press Union of Liberia Code of Conduct, by running unsubstantiated, scandalous and biased reports in their effort to get at colleagues on the other end to address perceived claims. The stations utilized their positions of trust to ignore the others from activities that were both professional and national.
Some community members did not benefit from the platform provided by both parties to discuss necessary issues and further that the both parties introduced personal matters on the media platform, to the extent of using the radio as a platform to hurl insults and threaten families and friends of the others.
Following the conversations and the advice from the PUL, CEMESP, Civil Society, the parties agreed to undertake the following corrective measures, which include, publicly apologize to the community for the actions by staff of the various media houses, which undermined community cohesion, heightened tension and disrupted peace and professionalism in the media.
They renewed their commitment to practicing journalism in a professional & ethical manner, to the effect of restoring the community confidence that the community radio is about providing factual and truthful information to the public, including the responsibility and obligation to work in the supreme interest of the community.
Meanwhile, commitment was signed by James Dorbor Sao on behalf of Super Bongese; Jefferson T. Massah, on behalf Radio Gbarnga, and was attested by Bishop Anthony F. Borwah, Catholic Diocese of Gbarnga and K. Abdullai Kamara, President of the Press Union of Liberia, among others.