The New Dawn (Monrovia)

9 January 2013

Liberia: The Liberian Media and 2012

column

Again an old year has expired with very little growth in the Liberian media landscape-growth in the sense of number and aggressiveness in information-gathering.

Even though some consider this matter otherwise, let this not be misconstrued as tainting the image of the Liberian media, but identifying some of the wrongs in the profession.

During the course of 2012 and even years past, the media exhibited a role regarded as placing personal egos before professionalism. It was actually like "going for the cash no matter where it was and from whom" using journalism as a springboard.

While a few institutions may have been in adherence to ethical journalistic practices, others knowingly suffocated such professional guide harboring the belief that cash was better than professionalism as evidenced by some of the mishaps which characterized our performance as journalists. And for those who all along thought to uphold the principles of good journalism, it was just very responsible to thrive on the path of ethical journalism and integrity.

In as much as journalism is not a profession to keep us perpetually in poverty, it is also image-degrading to those with the passion to use "mercenarism" as a way of overcoming such condition. Notably, some of our colleagues who continue to present to officials of the ruling establishment inflated impressions about total control over the media landscape when, in fact, they have very little or not all, are at the core such denigrating situation.

The irony is that these are non impact-making individuals in whom most public officials placed explicit confidence without cross-examining the professional dividend of such relationship. Let it be cleared that this issue goes beyond personal relationships between those who continue to present themselves as having absolute control over the rest of the Liberian media outlets and public officials carried away by inflated impressions.

With the huge 'cash' generated by these self-styled "media gurus" who continue to parade ministerial and managerial corridors in the Liberian public service, professional journalists working with their entities continue to undergo professional abuses, including the lowest salaries, sometimes leading to ethical transgression of all forms in the process of news gathering.

Most often in past years, including 2012, when challenged these "publishers or whatever you may want to call them" threatened reporters and lower-level editors with suspension and dismissals-only because of the difficulties in seeking employment with other media institutions whose standards and ethical guidelines are uncompromising. That's, indeed, the reason they pay the way they pay.

While there may be a very few professional sole-proprietorships in the media sector, most sole-proprietorships in the industry continue to fall prey to "mercenary journalism" on the basis of the personal egos of those who own them. All attempts for mergers into conglomerates as a way of opening up huge opportunities for advertisements and other supplements and wide circulation have failed and the sector will continue to be the way it is if passion continues to be pushed away.

Probably, as we begin the new year, we can only again hope and pray for the better, provided public officials and high level corporate managers will based their relations with us on the basis of our output in terms of transforming society and not because of the fear or threat of a certain publication. This time around, we must also be challenged for such attitude provided public officials and others will be sincere enough to do so.

As journalists, the opportunity is ours now to make a change for the better in 2013 and on if the integrity and respect which the Liberia media landscape once attracted must be restore. Observing and upholding our journalistic ethics, as well as protecting our individual characters in the discharge of our reportorial, editorial and managerial responsibilities must be our RESOLUTION and hallmark for the 2013.

Ensuring these would sure determine our professional destiny after the year 2013. And to Media managers who may have striven for growth during the last year despite the back-biting, envies and undermining perpetrated by the own wicked colleagues, continue to work towards vibrancy at your levels and you shall overcome. All the best to you in 2013.

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