By Tina S. Mehnpaine
Many practicing journalists being respected for their role in society sometimes behave in a way that they will trample on the law. Even though they are most of the time offended and in some instances beaten or incarcerated, yet journalists at times present themselves to be seen as people who seem to be above the law.
In instances as such, they will always want protection and people to plead on their behalf even if they were wrong, but Cecelia Gilklay Clarke, newly inducted president of the Reporters Association of Liberia, does not believe so. In her induction address in Monrovia on February 7, Mrs. Clarke said while journalists are sometimes offended and beaten, they are also wrong in many instances and, as president of the Reporters Association of Liberia (RAL), she will ensure to expose the wrongs of “Yellow journalists.”
“Our leadership will make sure to protect reporters and to speak out the wrong that will be done to them. Equally so, we will not sit to see any journalist doing the wrong thing and we keep quiet. We will expose the bad apples among journalists and we will discourage yellow journalism,” said the newly inducted President.
The RAL President, without mincing her words, was candid to admit that there are many people who have entered the field of Journalism with unprofessional conduct that need to be exposed. “This is the only way such unprofessional conduct will end in the Liberian media,” she said.
Clarke, whose promises and expressions were greeted with multiple rounds of applause in the James Fromoyan Conference Hall at the headquarters of the National Elections Commission (NEC) in Sinkor, also assured that her leadership is going to work with the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) to get media managers to accept and sign the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) seeking the welfare of Liberian journalists.
She reassured reporters of her commitment to uplifting reporters in Monrovia and its environs and promised to take the RAL to all parts of the country.
She further urged reporters to abstain from spreading hate messages in the country, respect the new leadership for the betterment of the association, work collectively to give the reporters in Monrovia and its environs a facelift.
Performing the induction protocol, Press Union of Liberia President, Charles Coffey, Jr. told the members of RAL to demonstrate trust in their leaders.
“These are your leaders, so please work with them,” said Coffey. “When you elect leaders do not leave them alone. Again, the confidence we reposed in you, demonstrate it.”
Others inducted with Mrs. Cecelia Gilkay Clarke include Willie Tokpah of Frontage Africa as Vice President, Mark Mengonfia of The New Republic as Secretary-General, Alfred Kollie of Farbric Radio as Assistant Secretary-General, and Hannah Geterminah of the Daily Observer as Financial Secretary. Mrs. Clarke herself works with state radio, Liberia Broadcasting System (otherwise known as ELBC). Before working for ELBC, Cecelia Gilkay Clarke worked for Renaissance Communications Incorporated, owner of Truth FM.
The induction ceremony was also attended by some high profile government officials that included Representative Francis S. Dopoh of District #3 in River Gee County. In his remarks, Representative Dopoh called on the new leadership of RAL to be active and curious more than the Legislature which he said has had ”weak oversight” on issues.
Rep. Dopoh further decried the issue of underpayment of media practitioners and debt owed to media houses and therefore called on the government to pay all debt owed media.
Former RAL’s President, Necus Andrews assured that the newly inducted officials will have his support especially if they seek it.
While the organic function of the Reporters Association of Liberia is within the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Andrews disclosed that the RAL has been involved in advocacy activities along with the PUL for the wellbeing of reporters.
Moreover, Andrews has warned inducted President Clarke of the many challenges she will face during her administration. “You will be pressured by reporters; don’t be pushed to issue a statement,” Andrews admonished Clarke.