The Vice President of Liberia, Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai, has urged journalists across Liberia to be focused, objective and independent in their reportage.
Speaking at a one-day participatory dialogue of the Reporters Association of Liberia, on Saturday, April 19, at the William V. S. Tubman High School, VP Boakai said he was deeply interested in journalists addressing issues of their welfare.
According to VP Boakai, the “Fourth Estate,” as the media is also called, is a very powerful institution in any democratic society. It needs to be properly wielded to achieve the aims and objectives of critical enlightenment of the citizenry.
The Vice President further explained that “It is a noble profession (journalism) that we look up to in our crusade of helping strengthen and expand the stability, peace, and democratic climate that is being supported in our country.”
Amb. Boakai said that the forum, under the theme: “Setting Standards for Critical, Objective and Independent Reporting,” is an opportunity that is appreciated as it helps to create optimism and has the capacity to lift all Liberians onto the same platform.
“The media is and must remain an important partner in our quest to achieve good governance with its lofty tenets of accountability, responsibility and love for Liberia,” he declared.
The Vice President said the hosting of the forum could not have come at a more critical time than now, and it is due to the level of press freedom that this government has ensured within its territorial confines, which is responsible for the mushrooming of media institutions around the nation.
VP Boakai stated that the government has been tolerant over the years, and that “freedom of expression and of speech is at an all-time high, and we are sure our population continues to cherish this freedom from their government.”
He said the call goes out to journalist to rise up and continue to objectively expose corruption and other ills of the society while they endeavor to educate the public on critical national issues.
VP Boakai said journalists should seek the truth and report it to be fair, honest and courageous in gathering and interpreting information and testing the accuracy of the information from all sources.
“Avoid deliberate distortion of news, photos, and video and distinguish between advocacy and news gathering,” he told his audience, who were mainly journalists.
VP Boakai called on them to minimize harm and treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect by showing compassion for those affected by the news coverage.
The VP said journalists must recognize that private individuals are at greater liberty and enjoy greater freedom in controlling news about themselves—more so than public officials do.
“Finally,” he concluded, “be sensitive when seeking or using photographs of those affected by grief.”