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Bias reporting Brings war -US Ambassador Malac, Experts challenge Liberian Journalist

DSC_0342United Ambassador accredited to Liberia, Deborah Malac has joined experts in the Mining, Oil and Gas industry and other sectors to urge journalist in Liberia to professionally report without biases to prevent conflict.

Liberia has a history of a long standing civil crisis that lasted close to 14 years and over 25 thousand people lost their live with millions worth properties destroy.

Ambassador Malac, in an address at the opening of a training program organized by Penplusbytes for Liberian Journalists, named; “empowering the Media to play Active Watchdog Role over Oil and Gas Revenue and Resource”, pointed out that Liberia has the freest media landscape she has ever seeing in the world.

Ambassador Malac disclosed that the media is critical to informing the people on what the government is doing because the information they provide affects the life of the population.

She said the media is a critical piece of the process of impacting society base on the publications and broadcasts they make in the various medium.

She termed information provided by the media as a powerful tool that empowered the people by affecting their views and issues, and as such she want journalist report these issues with responsibility.

“As a result as journalist is critically important that you report and cover issues responsibly” the United States envoy added.

On the issue of free media in Liberia, she measured the country media environment as one of the most free she has seen than anywhere she has been in the world.

In defense to the statement, Ambassador Malac stressed that the media in Liberia is free to broadcast and published or discuss issues concerning the Country without fear, a development that buys the public trust.

She said with the free environment provided the media in the Country, articles and broadcast done by journalist must be balance and credible because they may impact society negatively or positively.

The United State envoy disclosed  unbalance and unprofessional reporting could give rise to conflict because the people trust and believe what is reported in the media.
Ambassador Malac assertions comes on the heels of incessant condemnations of the incarceration of the Managing Editor of the closed FrontPage Africa (FPA) Newspaper, Mr. Rodney Sieh, at the Monrovia Central Prison.

Mr.Sieh, a prominent Liberian journalist, was ordered jailed by the Civil Law Court for failing to pay the amount of US$1,534,000.00 and L$10,500 to former agriculture minister, Dr. Chris Toe for damages in a libel suit.

Also on the backdrop of Ambasador Malac statement that Liberia has one of the freest media environment she have seen anywhere among  the Countries she has been, Reporters without Boarders published the World Press Freedom Index report for2013 with Liberia among the Countries that made promising gains.

Liberia is logged 97th, after climbing13) places, the reports outlined that the presidential election in November 2011 was tainted by the closure of several media outlets and attacks on journalists. In 2012, the atmosphere improved greatly.

In the summer, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the second African head of state, after MahamadouIssoufou of Niger, to sign the Declaration of Table Mountain, thereby undertaking to promote media freedom.

The Executive Director of the Liberia Peace Building Office, Wilfred Gray-Johnson said  “the Media is the Mirror of the modern Society, infect, it is the media which shapes our lives”.

He outlined greed and self-aggrandizement as one of the key viruses that have poisoned the virtues of equity and righteousness in the Liberian media.

He said if the media continues to travel on ill-responsibility path, it may injured the sustained peace currently enjoyed by the Liberian people.

Mr.Gray-Johnson said if the Media identifies its responsibility and work sincerely and honestly then it can serve as a great force in building the nation and makes the mind of the population think responsibly about issues in the society.

Senator Cletus Wortorson, who is chairman on Lands, Mines, Energy thinks that transgression in the media comes from the background that Liberian journalist are specialized and usually report on issues that they have no or limited knowledge on.

He said false information provided by any journalist has an implication of national disaster, such as war.
“You need to report factually, if you mislead the people it may result to civil problem and it is not healthy for  the state” he added.

However a Liberian legal expert, Attorney at Law, Vulate Hage has called on the media to use legislated laws do a balance reporting.

She said failure by a professional journalist to base their facts on laws when required, and do a story that is not factual is totally wrong, unacceptable and got no room for excuse.

She  pointed out the Freedom of Information Law as one key Liberian journalist can used in getting whatever information from public offices that may make their story balance and good without having a negative reflection of the population.

She said information given out by the media, when not properly manage may yield conflict.

Albeit , the Executive Director of the Center for Transparency and Accountability, CENTAL, Thomas Doe-Nah outlined that reporters cannot be held accountable for the transgression in the Liberian media, but rather pointed out publisher as the problem.

Mr. Doe-Nah disclosed that journalist are not the owners of the media institutions, one fact that is very cardinal to media responsibility.

He also outlined editorial policies as some of the pinpointing areas in newsrooms to be look at when mentioning factual reporting in the Liberian context.

Source:  Moses Kollie Garzeawu/ Liberia Broadcasting system

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Reporting Oil and Gas project was launched on 4th June 2009atTakoradi, Western Region, Ghana by Penplusbytes (PPB – www.penplusbytes.org) with the vision of providing a one stop online information and knowledge about Ghana’s oil and gas sector
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