Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai has urged the Liberian media to be robust and objective in exposing societal ills by reporting nothing but the truth.
He said truth telling based on research and verification of facts by journalists in their coverage of happenings in the country is critical for unbiased and accurate reporting.
According to a press release issued by the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) on April 19, Vice President Boakai made the statement last Tuesday in Washington, D.C. when he granted audience to a four-man delegation of the Association, led by its President, Moses D. Sandy.
A member of the Association’s National Board of Directors, Volcano Shelton, and the Delaware Valley Chapter President, Jackson T.S. Seton, and Vice President, Pewee Baysah met with the Vice President.
The Vice President and the ALJA delegates discussed the Association’s role in sustaining the prevailing peace and stability in Liberia, government-media relations, and the current political situation in the country, with particular focus on the 2017 general and presidential elections.
Mr. Boakai said the current wave of ethical transgressions in the local press is not healthy for the projection of a positive image of Liberia at home and abroad.
He said journalism is a noble and respectable profession, but the ongoing reporting of falsehood, blackmailing and the character assassination of public officials by some journalists and media institutions with impunity are literally hurting the credibility of the Liberian media. He observed, “Not all public officials are corrupt or dishonest.”
He maintained that sensational journalism influenced by the drive for economic gain by some media houses and journalists in Liberia is unpatriotic and such practice dampens the image of the country in the international community.
“It drives away investors, stalls national development, and influences foreign policies that are not favorable to our country and people,” Mr. Boakai, who is also the standard bearer of the ruling Unity Party (UP), said. He stressed: “We have done a lot of good things in Liberia, but they are not reported in the press.”
He said in the wake of the stated problems, it is sad that the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), the umbrella organization of the local Liberian press, is yet to take the needed corrective actions against journalists and media institutions that are blatantly violating media ethics and eroding the trustworthiness of the press.
On the 2017 general and presidential elections, the Vice President said the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration is committed to ensuring a free, fair, and transparent election in Liberia.
“As Vice President and standard bearer, I want to see a Liberia that works for all Liberians, including those in the Diaspora,” he noted.
ALJA President Moses Sandy thanked the Vice President and the Liberian government for the good work they are doing in maintaining peace and stability in the country.
Mr. Sandy said ALJA is a non-partisan organization which is interested in seeing a Liberia where the media, public officials, and all human beings regardless of race, religious, social, political and ideological differences would live in peace and harmony.
He called on the Sirleaf administration to ensure that the pending 2017 elections are held peacefully. “Mr. Vice President, this election is a critical period in Liberia. It can either make or break the peace and quietude that Liberia now enjoys; so, everything must be done to make sure that the process is free of intimidation, violence and fraud.”
He said ALJA remains devoted to ensuring that press freedom in Liberia is protected. “ALJA will not support any media institution or journalist that opts to engage in ethical transgressions or any other form of media malpractices. If the government encroaches on press freedom, we will raise the alarm and ask for corrective actions. But if journalists or media houses choose to engage in acts that are inimical to the peace and stability of Liberia, we will not support them blindly,” he said.
He emphasized that ALJA as a critical voice of the voiceless in Liberia, will continue to speak out on policy issues that adversely affect the lives of Liberians at home and abroad.
ALJA is a US based 501c (3) non-profit media advocacy group that brings together current and retired Liberian journalists residing in the Americas. It was founded in 1998 in Washington, D.C.