Liberia: Community Radio Journalists Receive First-ever Recognition



It was a great surprise for Jenneh Kemokai to receive her first award this year since becoming a community radio journalist in 2008 in Grand Cape Mount County.

Jenneh, among four other men, received her award from Internews in Environmental Reporting after going through a rigorous vetting process upon submitting her entry in that area.  “This is the first for me to receive from Internews since I started practicing, and I am just so grateful to Internews for allowing me to submit my entry for this award.  I am interested in Environmental Reporting, and this award makes me motivated to do more,” said Jenneh in a remark.

Rural journalists rarely receive awards as done to Monrovia-based journalists during the Press Union of Liberia’s award ceremony that comes once a year to recognize high performing journalists.  In fact, a lot of them find it difficult to become members of the umbrella organization due to their status.

To become a member of the PUL to participate in the award competition, one must have practiced for not less than three years with a recognized media institution, and possess a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication.

Though a lot of rural journalists practicing with community radios have undergone training conducted by many international organizations including Internews and can practically perform on the radio like any trained journalist in Monrovia where most nationally recognized radio stations and newspapers are based, community radio journalists, because of the procedures associated with becoming a member of the PUL and their locations, have found it difficult to get recognition for their performances over the years.

With the intervention of Internews and its partners, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), community radio journalists cannot wait to express their gratitude for spotlighting their work to gain recognition among their colleagues too.

“I appreciate Internews for the recognition today in Ganta.  This is the first time for me to have such an award with a cash prize and a new phone.  I am happy for this and I hope this will continue to see other community radio journalists receiving awards in their respective areas of reporting,” Joseph Titus Yekeryan of Radio Gbarnga in Bong County expressed.

Besides the certificates of appreciation awarded to the five community radio journalists for reporting in the areas of Gender, Human Rights, Agriculture, Health and Environment, each awardee got a cash prize of an unspecified amount and a CAMON 18 smartphone.

The award ceremony was a part of activities marking World Radio Day celebrated on February 13, 2023 in Ganta, Nimba County.  

The celebration was organized by the Association of Liberian Community Radios (ALICOR) a media organization for rural journalists across,

ALICOR’s President, Lawrence Tokpah, commended Internews and its partners for the honor bestowed upon the rural journalists and the plan they have to help alleviate sufferings community radios are encountering in the propagation of information in Liberia.

Jefferson Massah, a senior staff of Internews, said in a remark that the award program is one of activities the media supporting organization has embarked on for sustainability and motivation.  

According to Massah, Internews is also supporting selected media outlets by providing for them solar electricity, transmitter and training opportunity.

Another area of opportunity for community radios is a grant offered by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  This, according to another Internews senior staff, Samukai V. Konneh, comes with a well written and convincing practical and implementable business plan of a station that after winning, said station will be able to show results. 

During the two-day celebration, Internews discussed with the rural journalists and station managers strategies to sustain their various entities.  One way the institution is helping the rural stations is to connect them to corporate entities like banking institutions and corporate entities like ArcelorMittal Liberia.

With the presence of ArcelorMittal Liberia’s Media Manager, Winston Daryoue, Internews senior staff Samukai V. Konneh inquired how AML can be of a help to the media that rely solely on advertisement to make money, and Mr. Daryoue responded that AML remains a partner to the media and has been awarding advertisements to some that the company has relationship with.

He told the gathering that the only thing AML will not do is to make cash or material donation to a media entity, justifying that it would portray that the company is buying the media to be biased in reporting about AML.  

He also told the media representatives not to sit and see opportunities going to them, but should exert efforts to establish relationships with other entities including AML for advertisements.