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The Current Liberian Media Landscape

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It is no doubt that most organizations and institutions considered professional may now be suffering from integrity problem because of their inability to uphold the moral virtues for which they once stood. Like the others, the Liberian media sector may just be at the forefront of such diminishing ethical integrity. Take it or leave it, the issue of ethical principles may no longer exist in modern-day Liberian journalism.

What matters right now to most of us media managers, editors and reporters is the ‘commercial value’ we attach to our once flourishing noble profession. Perhaps, that is why whenever President Johnson-Sirleaf condemns media practitioners as ‘check-book journalists, hustlers with poisonous pen, as well as commercial journalists’, it becomes and continues to be difficult for any reaction/response because of the guilt.

In actuality or reality (if you will), that’s what most journalists are these days in Liberia- and this does not need any verification or evidence or scientific prove to justify the reference. By just reading most of the local newspaper headlines and stories or listening to some of the radio and television stations, one would easily determine whether or not we still do perform in consonance with ethical principles/standards.

Even though current unfortunate economic situation characterizing the Liberian media landscape may be understood, it doesn’t suggest that actors conduct themselves in a ‘mercenary manner’ as we continue to experience nowadays, to negate the characteristics of good Liberian journalism. We may be aware that the biggest advertiser- the Government of Liberia may be undermining the growth and development of the sector by deliberately failing to under-write accrued advertisement bills over a long period, but our commitment to upholding good journalistic and managerial principles may also prevent and deter all attempts to under or strangulate our growth and development.

Such commitment can only be manifested in our desire as a professional group of people to hold together with “a word” in order to sustain the Liberian media sector.

Our personal interest, lack of passion, poor management, as well as lack of vision, among others may be the attributing factors responsible for the un-necessary proliferation of media institutions and actors, so much so that the “don’t care attitudes” sidelining ethical standards by most media practitioners continue to raise eye-brows at journalism across the country.

The irony about the “social virus” that has infected the integrity of this noble profession is that they give the impressions to public officials and others that they are indeed on top of things, whereby they are the weakest in terms of the construction of grammars and ideas; yet still, public officials and a few others deal with them-even patronize them-….I mean they are the best guys in the minds and eyes of public officials and other well-meaning figures in our Liberian society.

Many a time, these same public officials use the so-called journalists as surrogates and agents for the advancement of their selfish, divisive and satanic deeds against other respectable, focused and well-meaning public officials and other Liberians- and this has to stop somehow.

Even media practitioners not expected in such grievous unprofessional practice do accept bad funding to expose to public ridicule high profile figures either in the public or private only because such mischievous personalities may be desirous of achieving something they intentionally failed to achieve in their public life. Most often, these ‘journalists’ to deliberately fail to ascertain the facts of the matter from the high profile individuals about whom these allegations are, even though they may documents in their possession as their reliance- of course, this is only because they are PAID to publish or broadcast.

And mind you, with the heat on for the October Special Senatorial Election in our country, the “mercenary journalism” has already begun-read some of the papers of late. No wonder most of the good guys and ladies of the profession are taking the back seat to preserve their own professional integrity – and we must commend them.

With all these and many, whenever the media is bastardized and desecrated by others outside of the sector, no one, of course, dares respond because of the guilt. This unfortunate situation could change, even now, if and only if the “rotten oranges” can submit themselves to the ground.

We can only have a small, effective, efficient, no-nonsense and economically viable Liberian media sector through strong mergers, commitment and highly competitive standards resistible of all external manipulations/negative influences, to forge partnerships that will not only be one-sidedly rewarding, but holistic in terms of the benefits.

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