By Gloria T. Tamba & J. Lisa Lumeh
As part of its efforts to improve the media environment in Liberia, the World Bank has provided training for and graduated 30 journalists and personnel from print and electronic media institutions from a 5-day intensive training in website development to enable them to manage their various media websites. Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the trainees on Wednesday, June 28, at the World Bank office in Monrovia, the country manager, Larisa Leshchenko, lauded the efforts of the participants for undergoing the weeklong extensive training that was organized to develop the nation’s media landscape.
Leshchenko explained that the weeklong training was prompted by identified capacity gaps, and agreed to intervene so media houses will have more knowledge on how to improve their online presence. She said that Liberian media houses print and broadcast beautiful stories on Liberia and Liberians.
“The world Bank therefore believes that these stories can make it to a much larger audience than just the less than a million consumers in the country.
“We decided to strengthen and improve the skills of webmasters in various institutions by acquiring a general website domain called Liberiamediahouses.org, training 30 media practitioners or webmasters from various media houses in website development, monitor their activities for a period and help webmasters to link their websites with various social media accounts like Facebook,” she said.
The World Bank country manager said the Internet has become the ultimate stage for the so-called global village “and everyone and institution are grabbing space on that global stage and increasing their audiences.” She pledged her organization’s support to ensuring the provision of continued trainings for journalists in different areas of media development so Liberia can meet international standards. In fulfillment of a promise made when she took up her assignment to Liberia, Leshchenko assured the Liberian media that the World Bank is prepared to work with them.
Mr. Charles Coffey, president of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), lauded the World Bank for equipping media practitioners with opportunities through trainings he described as “very key to journalists.” Coffey urged participants to transfer their acquired knowledge to those no present at the training by training them in order to improve Liberia’s media landscape.
The publisher and managing director of Inquirer newspaper, Philip Wesseh, urged journalists to report ethically, especially through their online publications, which have a tendency to reach a larger audience than any other media platform. “Ethics in journalism is still a problem. I urge the PUL to take action against any media house that would go against the ethics of the PUL,” he said. Mr. Wesseh thanked the World Bank for the initiative, noting that the technological deficit among many media institutions is visible based on the lack of quality and inconsistency of the websites of mainstream Liberian media houses. According to him, most media houses do not have the technical capacity to build and maintain their own websites; most rely on external contractors who charge huge sums of money to build a news website. “If we had invited someone to our office, they would’ve exploited us, but we are grateful for such an opportunity,” Wesseh said.
“Expensive web designers will never eat our money again!” He encouraged participants to monitor their websites by constant updates and fact-checking.
The class president, Victor Pratt of the New Democrat newspaper, thanked the communications office of the World Bank for affording them the chance to gain more knowledge. “We will use what we have learned during this workshop for the benefit of our workplaces and country,” he said.
Some of the institutions that benefitted from the weeklong training included Daily Observer, Inquirer, Frontier Newspaper, New Democrat, Radio Maria, ELBC, LINA, Capitol Times, Renaissance Communications Inc., Power Communications, Inc., among others.