Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe has described radio as an effective tool of communication globally.
He made the assertion Monday at an official program marking the 6th anniversary of World Radio Day, which was held on February 13 at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT).
The Minister pointed out that Liberians and foreign residents should celebrate “those professionals who use radio to advance and promote good in society.”
The World Radio Day celebrations, which were held under the theme, “Radio is You,” saw excited celebrants, including broadcast journalists and civil society activists, parading the principal streets of Monrovia.
“Radio has become an effective platform of communication in the world and this platform has made historic gains in every aspect of the human community,” Minister Nagbe said.
When the deadly Ebola virus struck Liberia, radio disseminated the most urgent messages to Liberians, he said.
He added that radio communication creates the platform to bring communities together, and urged his audience to recognize the great impact of radio and enhance its potential in the country.
Minister Nagbe added that Liberia will shortly embark on a democratic transition process and radio will again be a focal conduit for the dissemination of vital electoral messages.
He expressed the hope that as the democratic process draws nearer in Liberia radio should be used to spread messages of peace, as was done during the 14 year civil crisis in Liberia.
Minister Nagbe said recent surveys show that many Liberians get their information about the government and the country through “the vital channel of the radio.”
Nagbe explained that radio has gained prominence over most of the other platforms of communication in the country.
He urged Liberians in the broadcast industry to use the radio in an effective, professional and fair way since radio is the most accessible media instrument to Liberians.
Nagbe then extended thanks to Liberians who use radio to communicate cultural performances and songs to send out vital messages to their compatriots.
Also speaking, Deputy Information Minister for Technical Services Elizabeth E. Hoff said the need to enhance freedom of expression cannot be ignored by the Liberian government and the media.
“We are about to enter a new era in the democratic process where the national debate is expected to become bigger as we move to the most awaited national elections,” Mrs. Hoff said.
She regretted that with regards to media freedom, Liberian journalists continue to be victimized by almost all of the major parties, especially during the civil war when Liberian and foreign journalists lost their lives.
“Journalism is considered and viewed as a noble profession because it speaks out the truth,” Mrs. Hoff emphasized. “It sometimes becomes very dangerous and hence the element of risk is never removed from the journalism profession.”
She said journalists are not superheroes, and “fear should not be a sign of cowardice but rather it should be a sign of caution.”
Mrs. Hoff also reminded Liberian journalists that truth is the tool for defence and stressed the need for journalists to uphold the truth in all their reportorial duties.
However, she said self-censorships should be reinforced at all the media entities in the country.
In remarks, one of the selected panellists, broadcast journalist William Selmah, cautioned radio practitioners to always consider time consciousness as a hallmark of radio.
Selmah described radio prior to the civil war as a supplementary school and urged radio producers in Liberia to always offer their listeners something that would widen their knowledge.
“The way we will leave the radio today as broadcast journalists is the way posterity will judge us,” he said.
Selmah hailed the recent move by authorities of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to include human rights courses in their curriculum for the new soldiers.
He said while the media has largely been responsible for flagging bad labor practices in many sectors of Liberian society, however, the media is “the worst place for bad labor practices” and journalists at some media institutions do not have rights and are not fully supported by their employers.
Assistant Information Minister for Information Services Wellington Geevon Smith underscored the need for community radio stations to produce most of their programs in Liberian languages, and called on producers to concentrate on the promotion of development initiatives.