President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has urged the government, media organizations, the private sector and their development partners to work together to address issues that remain critical not only to the development of media in Africa but for progress across the continent.
The Liberian leader stated that she recognized current efforts to strengthen media in Africa through initiatives to deliver training, improve content production, introduce new financing mechanisms, and promote codes of ethics.
President Sirleaf made the comments when she delivered a statement to African media owners and other media stakeholders at the sixth edition of the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF) conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Liberian President noted that the persistence of these problems—especially the lack of respect for the ethics of the profession— posed the greatest threat to the emergence of a free, independent, and responsible media in Africa
Using her own country (Liberia) as a case in point, President Sirleaf pointed to the media explosion that followed the return of peace and democracy to her country and stressed that there is a dire need of technical support and assistance in training for journalists. This, she said, can be done by fashioning strong self-regulatory framework, and committing to better practice and professional care while maintaining high ethical standards – the same issues that topped the agenda for discussion at the AMLF.
She spoke of her commitment to govern transparently and accountably, to deepen the rule of law, and to protect freedoms and rights of citizens. She said she believed dedication to all of these actions add value and new meaning to Liberian citizenship. To sum it all up, she added, "The role of a responsible, informed, adequately funded, professional, and creative media is paramount".
President Sirleaf's statement was delivered during the final session of AMLF 13 – "Heads of State Roundtable" that saw media owners’ debate a wide range of issues with the leaders of Ethiopia and Kenya.