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-LMD Chief of Party urges media editors

The Chief of Party for the Liberia Media Development Program under the auspices of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Lien Bach, has challenged media editors in Liberia to strengthen their editorial leadership in electorate reporting.

Madam Bach said editors should inspire journalists to produce fact-based and objective reports that would promote free and fair elections in Liberia.

She spoke Wednesday, 04 November in Monrovia at a one-day High Level Media Editors’ Forum organized by the Publishers Association of Liberia with support from USAID facilitated by Internews.

Madam Bach described the forum as a great opportunity for Liberian Editors to share their experiences and expertise with one another in enhancing electoral reporting.

She noted that despite challenges confronting the media in Liberia, professionalism should be maintained to inform the public adequately on electoral issues ahead of the Special Senatorial Election on December 8, 2020.

Madam Bach stressed that the Liberia Media Development Program with implementing partner Internews is in partnership with the Publishers Association of Liberia, which brought 17 editors from renowned media houses to discuss strengthening media editorial leadership during elections.

At the same time, the Director for Civic and Voter Education at the National Elections Commission (NEC) Paul Wilson said, the NEC is challenged with high level illiteracy among the population, which makes it difficult in understanding civic-voter education about the electoral process.

Director Wilson described election as a bridge between peace and chaos, urging Liberians to ensure peace is maintained across the country.

He noted the media plays a significant role in enhancing the process of peace and discouraging violence.
He called for strengthening capacity of NEC to deliver effective civic and voter education which would improve the democratic process in Liberia.

Wilson continued that the NEC is there to ensure integrity in the process by providing platforms for aggrieved parties to be heard, beginning with hearing by NEC Magistrate, Hearing Officer, the NEC Board of Commissioners and the Supreme Court of Liberia.

Professor Thomas Keydor, second panelist, said he opposes any attempt to set quotas for women in politics, saying “the Constitution of Liberia requires everybody to compete; you may win or you may not win.”
However, he called on the media to lift the voices of women candidates alongside the male counterparts. “How are the papers raising the voices of those women?”, he asked.

Professor Keydor urged the media in Liberia to build synergy in order to attract donors and partners’ support to promote developmental stories, underscoring, “You are in a mutually-conflicting environment; you need to diversify.”

Information Minister Ledgerhood Rennie, said election can be acrimonious because of its conflict nature, particularly so because politicians compete to lead. He said journalists have crucial role to play in an electoral process by delivering thorough, verified and balanced information.

“Journalists must acquire all relevant documents regarding the election law so that you can hold the referee to the game. Be knowledgeable about the rule of the game”, he further emphasized. Liberia is preparing for senatorial and representative by-elections and national referendum on December 8, 2020.

Internews, in partnership with LMD, PAL and USIAD has trained local journalists from across the country to work with experienced editors in producing thoroughly researched stories about the electoral process leading to polling day and post-election. Story by Jonathan Browne

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