Two Liberian journalists drew attention in Tubmanburg on May 4 when they got engaged in a fist fight that left one of them with serious facial injuries.
The fighting began when the Ministry of Information bus that transported journalists to and from Bopolu in Gbarpolu County made a stop in Tubmanburg for those on board to buy food.
Eye-witnesses, who saw the two Liberian journalists at the back of the vehicle, said Kpadeh Smith of the Liberian Express Newspaper, who was under alcoholic influence, was the first to assault Moses Garzeawu of the Liberia Broadcasting Corporation (LBS) while he (Garzeawu) was eating bread and drinking a bottle of soft drink.
Garzeawu, gravely agitated by the alleged offense by Smith, retaliated with punches, following which blood began oozing from Smith’s face.
The president of the Reporters Association of Liberia, Mr. Keith Morris, along with other journalists, took Smith to a nearby drug store where he was treated.
Following the incident, Peter Fahn of the New Liberia newspaper reported the case to the Liberian National Police in Bomi County, and Garzeawu was temporarily arrested and detained for a few hours.
When the fight first began, both parties were separated by their colleagues in order to avoid what eventually took place.
While Smith was clearly under the influence of alcohol, it was not immediately clear whether or not Garzeawu was as well; some who were close by said he was also under intoxicated. Smith was observed by journalists on board to be under such high influence of alcohol that he could not move by himself without assistance.
After the indoor and outdoor activities of every retreat that the Union has, journalists have always converged at a selected entertainment center, where they wine and socialize.
Following the weekend's press-related activiteis, on the night of May 3, an intoxicated Kpadeh Smith allegedly disturbed the peace at the motel where he, Moses Garzeawu and others were lodged. This angered Garzeawu, who reportedly lifted Smith from the room and laid him in the hallway. He (Smith) reportedly spent the night there.
As far as reporters at the police station in Tubmanburg observed, neither Garzeawu nor Kpadeh gave a statement about the incident.
However, police, having high regard for the Journalism profession and its practitioners, reportedly resolved the problem and asked all parties involved to forgo the dispute and return to Monrovia.
Prior to that resolution, nonetheless, journalists who converged at the police station made the environment very noisy and uneasy for the officers to perform their duty.
The journalists were in divided groups; they accused and insulted one another as police tried to establish the facts surrounding the incident.
Even though a journalist is not restricted under the code of ethics from taking in alcohol, it is considered unethical for a journalist to be under the influence of alcohol in the discharge of his/her duty in the public and to carry out physical assaults.
The leadership of the Press Union of Liberia is yet to reach a decision on the recent event involving two of its members.