The Liberian media is often characterized
by the lack of trained manpower, ethical digression and transgression, poverty
and female under-representation. Against this background, a workshop on support
for the independent media in Liberia’s new democracy has just concluded here in
Washington. It was sponsored by the Center for International Media Assistance
and the National Endowment for Democracy.
Among those attending the workshop from Liberia was Philip Sandi,
secretary general of the Press Union of Liberia.He told VOA the
Liberian media needs training and economic empowerment.
essence of the workshop was really to try to create the environment for support
to the independent media in Liberia. For instance, the issue of money and the
profession is something that was really highlighted that if we have to see good
journalism in Liberia then people should be ready to pump money into the
system, and much of that money has to go to media development, training and
putting into place strategies that will help media practitioners to be able to
bring out business plans to bring money into the media,” he said.
a capacity building workshop last October in Monrovia, participants identified
ethical digression and transgression as some of the problems afflicting the Liberian
journalism profession, including some journalists expecting money or favors in
return for covering news events.
said the problem of ethical violation is an outgrowth of lack of training and a
result of economic reality in Liberia.
though a lot of people will say okay money can’t bring about professionalism,
but the problem we have here is that most of the journalists in Monrovia,
especially most of the media entities are not paying, and because our
journalists are not paid, what normally people focused on is to survive, and
when people are practicing journalism to survive obviously you would expect
they would go after stories to survive,” Sandi said.
also said the Liberian delegation told the workshop that another plan is to
begin to look at media institutions in Liberia as business entities whereby
media managers would be required to draw up business plans to make them
financially solvent thereby being able to pay their journalists.
said it would not be practical, as some have suggested, setting up a media
commission that would reassess training, emphasizing the professional
competence of Liberian journalists.
you look at Liberia, you have to look at it from the global perspective. We
have records of people who did not go to real journalism schools but they have
proven to be some of the greatest journalists of our time. It’s a whole system
that we have to put in place, and training is just one of it,” he said.
are underrepresented in the journalism profession in Liberia, and Sandi said
part of the proposal the Press Union of Liberia will be presenting to
international donors would include how to empower female Liberian journalists.
was even surprising to our audience to note that out of the 17 radio stations
that we have in Monrovia, you have only one – Radio VERITAS – that has a female
manager. And to best of my knowledge, we don’t have any female editor within the
print sector. And that is going to be part of the media assistance strategy
document that we are going to come up with. It will have a lot of things in the
package for women, especially those that want to study journalism. We will be
providing scholarship at the university level; we will be providing
scholarships at the certificate level. We’ll be providing an environment where
female journalists are going to be having exchange programs. And when we do
that it would serve as an environment that would encourage more female media
practitioners to enter the profession,” Sandi said.