12 June 2012

Liberia: Respect the Early Warning Signals of the Media


Liberians have a custom of overlooking media reports. Many Liberians brush off media publications that tend to give early warning signals as mere speculation. A case in point is the several reports over the months that flagged potential security threat on Liberia's border with Cote d'Ivoire. Several media reports, especially by the Chronicle, that pointed out that training of dissidents, who could target both Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia, was taking place at the Liberia-Ivory Coast border were overlooked by authorities.

They did not only overlook these reports. When they became pervasive, some authorities, including the Superintendent of Grand Gedeh County, took to the airwaves to denounce them as unfounded and irresponsible.

Well, last Friday's raid into an Ivorian border town that claimed the lives of seven UN peacekeepers and eight civilians, gives credence to reports by Liberian media about the porous nature of the Liberia-Ivory Coast border and the tenuous security there.

Had both governments taken the early warning signals provided by the media seriously, they would have acted promptly and the lives of the slain seven UN peacekeepers would have been spared. Indeed, had these reports not fallen on deaf ears, troops would have been deployed earlier than now and the lives of an estimated 50 persons who have become casualties as a result of the tenuous security on this border, would not have been lost.

I applaud the Liberian Government for its prompt action that has averted a possible relapse of post-war Liberia into another round of conflict, and a possible confrontation with our neighbor Cote d'Ivoire. While the stalemate is being negotiated through diplomatic channels, I call on authorities of the two Mano River Union countries to demonstrate the usual maturity in handling the impasse. I have received reports that both countries have deployed troops at their various borders; I want to use this medium to request troops of both countries to comport themselves honorably and not to allow tempers to flare to unmanageable heights. I request troops of both countries to exercise restraint and allow peace and calm to prevail.

Above all, I want to use this medium to call on Liberian authorities to begin to respect and take newspaper reports seriously. I admit that there are lackeys in the journalism profession, who have no remorse of conscience in publishing articles that have no iota of truth. However, most media institutions are cognizant of the danger the publication of unfounded stories poses to their businesses. Besides, most publishers are true professionals, who would not do anything to dent the respect society has for them by engaging in unprofessional acts. Only a few journalists prioritize how much they make today. Most journalists are more concerned about building the credibility of their media institutions by publishing only the truth.

Like all professions, the media has its own 419ers, and a few join-the-lists should not push you to lose the respect you have for the media.

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