Two legal minded Liberians are calling on practicing journalists in Liberia to educate themselves and be conscious of making follow-ups to stories.
Former Associate Justice and Chairperson of the Independent National Human Rights Commission, Counselor Gladys Johnson, and Human Rights Lawyer, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe made the recommendation on Monday when they participated in a program marking the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
Taking the first turn as one of the panelists during the occasion, INHRC Chairperson Gladys Johnson recounted that today is unlike the days of President William V.S. Tubman, when no journalist, except the brave Albert Porte, could write or say anything they wished to say today.
The environment has improved for press freedom and impunity reduced.
However, former Associate Justice Johnson emphasized that Liberian journalists need to go to school to improve their writing and speaking skills.
She said most journalists of today poorly write and speak English, and they do not make follow-up to stories.
On the basis of reporting skills, Justice Johnson said most journalists castigate others and put out stories that have no substantial proof. This, she said, poses negative reflections on an individual’s character.
Human rights lawyer, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, making remarks at the end of the program also emphasized that journalists must seek education and improve their knowledge, noting, “Knowledge is power, seek knowledge and improve yourselves.”
He acknowledged that the society cannot operate without security and security cannot operate without the journalists.
He said journalists being people who are relied on for accurate information, need to improve their skills to put out accurate information that readers and listeners can trust.
Cllr. Gongloe also stressed that Liberian journalists have to give serious attention to education in order to speak and write proper English that others who are not Liberians will understand.
Reacting to the recommendation, Liberian practicing Journalist and president of the Reporters Association, Keith Morris, consented and said Liberian journalists need concrete training that will improve their skills.
He added that instead of international organization like IREX using millions of United States dollars to facilitate three days workshop, it should draw a long range plan and liaise with the University of Liberia to arrange Journalism training that would take about 8 to 10 months.
Challenges facing the media landscape of Liberia are enormous. Dialectical English speaking, incomprehensible writing and photo misplacement are among the many errors counted.
Audiences have overly complained against sensational headlines based on fallacies while majority who listen to radio have also complained about.
People also complain that one person will commit a crime and the head of an institution will be used under the headline as if he/she is the one that committed the crime.
There is no standard in Liberia to guide people entering the media to practice Journalism, but people enter therein either by passion or through the influence of a person who wants to establish a radio station or newspaper.
By this, managers seek people who will undergo a few days workshop and given recorders to get voices to gather actuality for processing by editors many of who are also facing grammatical challenges.