The President of the Association of Liberian Journalists in Americas (ALJA), Mr. Joe Mason has renewed his organizations’ commitment to seeking opportunities for growth, capacity building, and development of the media in Liberia.
In his prepared text delivered at the 6th National Convention of ALJA via Zoom, Mr. Mason expressed concern that most Journalists in Liberia barely earn enough to make ends meet, a situation which poses a serious threat to the country’s democracy which caused journalists to lack independence and compromised.
The convention was held virtually on the theme: “The Media, the Rule of Law, and the Culture of Impunity in Liberia.”
He further said the gathering was aimed at discussing ways to tackle the manic (busy) and puffer suggestions to the government and other actors.
The ALJA boss said leaders of the country need to ensure that the rule of law applies equally to everyone and do away with the culture of impunity that is so pervasive if the country is to make progress.
He described as appalling the constant security harassment, political suppression, and financial inducement against journalists in Liberia.
Mr. Mason said these challenges are causing media transgressions and called for a halt to such activities by actors mainly politicians and the government of Liberia.
“Too often, ethical principles and professionalism are sacrifices on an altar of survival; many professionals are also fleeing the profession for other careers.”
Mr. Mason expressed disappointment that the Presidential committee set up to investigate harassment against journalists by state securities has achieved nothing as some members of the committee have resigned.
He said the media continues to play a crucial role in holding the government accountable, stressing that in a democratic country, laws must apply to all, and such is not happening in Liberia.
“We are playing lip service to the rule of law and perpetrators of crimes are not prosecuted,” Mr. Mason said.
In his opening remarks, ALJA’s President Joe Mason said due to the COVILD-19 Pandemic, they were constrained to conduct the virtue convention aimed at protecting the safety of its members.
Emphasizing the significance of the association Mr. Mason said, ALJA aimed at promoting, strengthening media workings in Liberia, and will serve as a strong voice that will speak against ills in society and puffer suggestions.
Since taking over the leadership of the largest body of Liberian Journalists in the Americas, Mr. Mason outlines some of his achievements as, advocating for Liberian journalists, speaking against ills in society, revamping, forming several ALJA’s chapters, and providing COVID-19 relief funding to Liberian journalists amongst others.
He said ALJA members raised over $3000.00USD (three thousand USD) that went towards the purchase of food and non-food items including rice, cooking oil, facemask for journalists in Liberia.
“Thou the value amount was not astronomical, we took pride in this effort to be our brother’s keeper, to see our commitment to you our colleagues based on the relationship and bounds over many years, based on shared experiences,” Journalist Mason said.
He said ALJA under this leadership will remain engaging all sectors in seeking opportunities, building, developing the skills, and improving the welfare of journalists mainly in Liberia.
He wants journalists who are not part of the network to join in order to keep supporting the workings of their colleagues back home and fostering unity and networking with their colleagues in the diaspora.
He said most professional journalists are leaving the profession due to greener pasture something saying it is not right, but attributed such to the low pay and benefits for journalists in Liberia.
“We at ALJA look forward to strengthening our partnership with the PUL and every one of you. I can commit that this organization will continue to explore avenues that benefit journalists in the country.”
The ALJA President said the plight of journalists in Liberia has also claimed the attention of the association and they are working with the PUL to provide aid to ailing journalists as most of them are not financially potent to settle their medical bills or seek treatment.
During the virtual convention veteran journalists, Patrick Manjoe and Cyrus Badio were honored for their contributions to the media in Liberia.
President of the Press Union of Liberia Charles Coffey says, under the Coalition for Democratic Change government the rule of law is not observed.
Mr. Coffey said, judging from elections violence in the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Togo, and other countries if these issues are not addressed in Liberia it might degenerate into other crises.
He said it is important that media practitioners hold those in the leadership of the country accountable because there are glaring sounds of irregularities under the current leadership as the country goes to senatorial elections in December.
He said the media must pressurize those in authority to respect the rule of law and make show that constitutional provision is needed, upheld for peace and stability in the country.
“The union will not relent, we will continue to speak against ills in society, we will continue to sensitize the people, so they can make an inform decision during this senatorial elections.”