16 September 2008

Liberia: LMC Extols Media Institutions

Monrovia — The Liberia Media Center (LMC) says there has been a steady improvement in the overall quality of media reports coming out of the two transitional justice processes.

The Center said both print and broadcast media outlets have responded in remarkable fashion to criticisms in all their reports.

LMC noted the outstanding performance of the Analyst Newspaper and Star Radio for not only reporting the process with consistency but helping to influence actions and policies.

According to a media monitoring report covering from June-August released at the weekend, the Analyst Newspaper slightly edged out the New Democrat and Daily Observer Newspapers for "setting the news agenda" on a number of occasions and most notably, the long-running memo on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appearance before the TRC.

The Center added that this was a massive effort that showed good results with the President now saying she would appear.

Overall, LMC stated that the media should be lauded for keeping the TRC public hearings and Charles Taylor trail in the spotlight amidst competing news and information agenda.

The Center observed that for the most part all print media institutions involved in this research have improved various aspects of their work, from content layout, news and information sourcing to improvements in their beats and editorial management.

"This latest report attests to huge gains especially in the surge of reports on the TRC. The report notes a steady progression in the number of articles coming out of the print media for the period. This trend has recorded the month of June with the least entry of 37 reports from all the papers monitored, while July recorded an uptake in the TRC coverage with 103 articles. The month of August produced an astounding 232 TRC articles, two times more articles than June and July put together. The Charles Taylor Trial recorded an accumulative 89 articles from the print media," the LMC added.

The Analyst newspaper maintained a consistent lead during the period (11 in June, 21 in July and 42 in August) with a record of 74 articles covering a total of 45.5 pages out of 532 published pages. The New Democrat followed closely with 71 reports which covered 39 pages out of a total of 712 pages. The Daily Observer obviously lost its first place ranking recorded from the last review but clenched the third spot by registering 62 articles. Forty-seven went to the National Chronicle while 46 apiece was recorded for The News and Heritage Newspapers. The Inquirer and Public Agenda published 45 and 33 articles respectively.

In spite of the huge coverage, there were a number of editorial problems associated with the coverage that can be found in greater detail in the full report to be released in hard back form.

For radio, all three stations (Star Radio, ELBC and Truth FM) monitored performed exceptionally during this period. Star Radio should receive special emphasis for keeping an impressive showing in quality and overall output. Out of 183 news bulletins recorded and edited by monitors, 98 were TRC related with 26 in June, 17 in July and a lion share of 55 articles in August. These articles took up a total of 273mins 43 sec. Compared with previous report, Star Radio has allotted more air time (an additional 109 min 92 sec) to covering the TRC.

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