The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) is reminding media institutions and journalists in the country that strict adherence to the Union’s Code of Conduct and Ethics in ensuring professional media practice in Liberia and the guidelines for the coverage of the 2014 Special Senatorial Election is non-negotiable.
According to a statement issued in Monrovia today, “The Code of Ethics and Conduct shall be binding on all Journalists and media institutions in Liberia and punishment for violators shall range from warning, fine, suspension and expulsion,” in accordance with Article 29 of the Union’s constitution.
The release further stated: “The Press Union of Liberia Grievance and Ethics Committee shall investigate all matters and complaints arising out of the violation of this Code and recommend penalties to the Executive Committee for action.”
The statement issued in Monrovia on Wednesday said the Committee is fully prepared to henceforth name and shame any media institution or journalist flouting any provision of the Code, especially those bordering on nonpartisanship, as well as any fair and balanced coverage of the election.
The Union reminded media houses and journalists of the nonpartisan clause stipulated in Article 7 of the PUL Code of Ethics, which obligates journalists to place themselves above partisan or ideological cleavages in order to give greater prominence to the norms of professional practice.
“Let this press statement serve as sufficient notice to all those who have chosen to deviate from professional norms by engaging in unethical practices that the laser is on you and the buck must stop here and now,” the PUL Grievance and Ethics Committee Chair Frank B. Sainworla said in a statement.
The media is under obligation “to give fair coverage to all political parties, candidates, coalitions or alliances,” as enshrined in Article 1 of the PUL Election Code, noting that “This Committee is not afraid of facing the shots in order to ensure the upholding of professional standards in the supreme interest of good and professional journalism.”
In a related development, the PUL has applauded the high level of professionalism exhibited by the Women Voices and the Microscope Newspapers for upholding the ethical standards of journalism even after falling short of professional conduct. The two media houses were respectively accused by the General Auditing Commission and Grand Cape Mount County Senator Edward Dagoseh for professional offenses which they immediately rectified after the Grievance and Ethics Committee’s ruling.
“This is the kind of media landscape we want,” PUL President K. Abdullai Kamara said. “It is professional in journalism, and is coined in the PUL constitution that we should immediately publish retractions when we err in our work.”
The PUL said when journalists begin to uphold professional standards and respect the self regulation mechanism of the PUL, the Liberian people will have explicit confidence in the media and the ability of the PUL to address complaints.
Meanwhile, the Union has assured journalists that it will leave no stone unturned in probing claims against the media with the aim of promoting harmonious relations between the media and the public.