The Press Union of Liberia with support from Internews Liberia has organized a one-day National Media Council retreat aimed at reawaken and strengthening the Council.
Considering the demand for quality and professional journalism that best serves the public Interest, the National Media Council was established to maintain the independence of the media, the protection of journalists and the defense of free expression in Liberia.
It was also established for the purpose of regulating media accountability and professional conduct in Liberia, pursuant to the journalism code of ethics for Liberian journalists and internationally accepted media ethical standards.
The objectives are to among other things guarantee compliance with the code of ethics for Liberian journalists through contents on multiple media platforms; respect the right to freedom of expression and information and adopt measures that are proportionate and necessary in order to redress violation of the code.
This is to further undertake appropriate and proactive measures to ensure adherence to the highest journalistic standards, including the investigation, mediation, and settlement of complaints made against or by the press, in so far as their work enhances the safety of journalists and preserve the public good. And to also create awareness of the objectives, principles, and workings of the NMC, especially among journalists and owners of media institutions, journalism schools, government and private institutions through and consultations, as well as encouraging feedback.
The National Media Council consist of nine members from different sections and denominations to include: media, religious groups, legislature, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), academia, and women groups.
Speaking at the forum held over the weekend at the Temple of Justice on Capitol Hill, PUL President Charles Coffee acknowledged the many ethical transgressions in the Liberian media landscape but blamed the situation to the electronic media.
“There are too many ethical transgressions particularly from the radio stations. People used profanities on the radio station; when we engaged them, they say they are not members of the Press Union,” PUL Coffee told the gathering.
Accordingly, NMC member Roseline Tweh stressed the need for the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) to link with the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) as means of reconsidering some of the MOU between the two entities as they reawaken the NMC.
Madam Tweh said there are ethical transgressions in the Liberian media because most practicing journalists are not members of the PUL and does not have assignment areas saying “such lead to ‘katorism’ and corruption within the profession.”
She wants the PUL release statement distinguish political commentators (Journalists) from journalists, not to be backing people under the context of free speech.
“PUL should begin to take measures of who to practice. If you are a professional journalists behave as such, if we warned you and you still continue; we will get to the point of forcing you to do what you ought to do,” Tweh.
She cautioned the PUL to begin to regulate media contexts to ensure they meet up with ethical standards saying “Freelancers, journalists attached to political parties, and unregistered journalists are the major problems in the media landscape as they heavily depend on Kato.”
“The Press Union of Liberia is the major problem. It backs everything that is totally wrong,” ELBC boss Rennie added.
According to him, the Union have over time, supported lawlessness knowing that it has a serious responsibility.
At the end of the retreat, it was agreed that the NMC when reawakened will regulate the behavior of would-be journalists in the country and strong action will be taken against anyone for breach of ethics. TNR