7 March 2014

Liberia: Exercise Your Responsibility Seriously - U.S. Diplomat Urges Liberian Journalists

The Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy near Monrovia has urged Liberian journalists to exercise their responsibility seriously.

Madam Sheila Parksman said journalists can do this by assuring that everything they put out to the public is as accurate and truthful as possible.

The US diplomat was speaking Thursday, March 6, 2014 at a one-day workshop on the strategic role of the media in the security sector reform.

The one-day workshop, which was held at the PA's Rib House in Lakpazee, Sinkor, Monrovia, was jointly organized by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) and United States Embassy near Monrovia.

"The press plays a vital role in society. The only means that the general public has for understanding what their government is doing is through what they learn in the media.

This puts a serious burden on the media. However, that burden comes down to two simple ideas. The media must keep the public informed about what is happening with their government and the report must be accurate.

This reaches across all sectors of what the government is doing but it is especially important when it comes to safety and security," said the US diplomat.

According to Madam Parksman, the press has the power to incite popular unrest, and it has the power to calm down explosive situations.

"If you report something without verifying and identifying the source, you could destroy someone's career and harm the public based on false information. Be sure of your facts before you report. If you haven't heard the information from at least two reliable sources, it is probably not accurate," she stated.

Mr. James Momoh, Media Consultant and Adjunct Faculty Member of the ACSS, observed that the media has a critical role in ensuring that the judicial system is transparent, noting that the media should not be silent on the need for transparency and accountability in the security sector reform (SSR).

"The media must not be silent in the legal system; the judicial system must represent the interest of the people and not a selected group." He emphasized. The renowned Liberian journalist stressed the need for easy access between the media and public officials.

He pointed out that this will in turn reduce the tension between the media and the government.

"The media and public officials, especially those in the security sector must co-exist for the strong implementation of the SSR. SSR at this point in time is not an option, but necessity to Liberia's development agenda," the Media Consultant and Adjunct Faculty Member of the ACSS, pointed out.

Like Momoh, Retired Colonel Thomas Dempsey, a Professor of National Security Studies at ACSS, wants the media and security agencies to operate as one partner.

"Look at the press as a partner and not your opponent. This is good for the enhancement of a sound SSR implementation." He amongst other things added.

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