THERE APPEARS A serious twist and veering from the path of professionalism, considering the way the media in Liberia is conducting itself; reporting on issues that have significant bearing on the political, social and economic wellbeing of the nation and its people completely outside of ethical bar. This trend of unprofessionalism is worrisome and also speaks volume of how the media has allowed or is allowing itself to be used or to get fried in the ‘gullibility culture’ of Liberians. Cleary, we are the pace setter and at such, our role should be seen as clear to help the government and the people move on in a more peaceful way.
FAR BEFORE 1964, the year of the birth of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), the media in Liberia has known incongruous behaviors journalists got accustomed to in the name of “doing our work to inform the public as watchdogs of society.” There is no real change since then as present-day journalists are also running with the same diagonally unethical deportment that is underpinning all sectors of national development.
JOURNALISTISM OR COMMUNICATION professors, both local and foreign, have been working extremely assiduously to inculcate the real professional culture into the Liberian media, but it appears that such is taking time to get connected. It maybe due to shallowness of understanding, conceitedness, and lack of better training or mere display of callousness to the national interest. Counterchecking of information, which is a basic journalistic requirement is at times lacking. In short, Liberian journalists have fast become biased in their dealings or partisan journalism is the heart of their work.
THESE CONDITIONS ARE professionally intolerable as they are potential drivers of serious national crisis because when the media in a country is ethically sluggish, the country is unstable and then peace and reconciliation are threatened. We think the media needs to raise the professional bar, once again if it has ever existed, so that it can gain public confidence which it has lost. Journalism is not the flashiness of the headlines, but the sustenance of the story/information.
IT BECOMES DISCOMFORTING listening to the talk shows, reading the newspapers the way issues are portrayed, the way journalists become party to the issues instead of stimulating debates around them, or instead of educating the public. Let it be said that nationalism is naturally or constitutionally imposed on every citizen born unto a Liberian father and mother, and that national interest supersedes personal or professional interest because before we become journalist, we were Liberians.
IT IS HIGH time that the media became and/or remained unwaveringly nationalistic because these are times ‘those with vested interests’ are employing different tactics, using pecuniary persuasions to undermine the interest of the state, and by extension the government.
DISHEARTENINGLY FOR US, most Media institutions in Liberia are either owned, managed or sponsored by politicians or friends to the power that be, thus, forcing most media practitioners to dance to the drum sounds of their employers or sponsors.
DESIPITE BEING MICROMANGED, journalists who see this profession as a career for the sole purpose of informing the public and the stability of the society or state they find themselves in must exercise the highest level of restraint and professionalism to report for the common good of the public.
LET IT ALSO serve as a reminder for all journalists that cardinal stories are reported with a mindset of helping to improve the society and not to endanger the stability of the very society or environment they live in.
THE ISSUE OF hate messages, unbalanced, slander and libel stories should be the taboos of any trained, careful and well informed journalist and should use it as a mirror considering the causes of the Rwanda Genocide and the post electoral violence or conflicts that claimed the lives of thousands in Kenya and Nigeria in the earliest parts of the 21st Century and that is why it is incumbent on all members of the watchdogs of society or ‘The Fourth Estate’ to always be nationalistic in all of what he or she writes or reports; the media was largely responsible or blamed for said conflicts and loss of lives.
IF WE MUST be the needed and better watchdogs of our society we find ourselves in, then, we all must strive for professionalism and above all nationalism all geared to save ourselves and the society.
REMEMBER THAT OUR reportage is meant to educate, inform and improve the state and its inhabitants which we believe leads to nationalism.