Executive Mansion Reporters Frustrated -Want Pres. Weah, Press Secretary Resolve Burning Issues

The Executive Mansion Press Corps (EMPC), a conglomeration of journalists assigned at the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs to provide media coverage for the Presidency, seems not to be happy about how things are turning out for them under the Weah administration, especially with the Office of the Presidential Press Secretary (PPS). Listing a litany of grievances during a press conference Monday, May 16, 2022, the EMPC leadership outlined among myriads of concerns the lack of vehicle to convey journalists of the EMPC covering activities of the President since the assigned vehicle got damaged in a road accident three years ago. The EMPC leadership also decried the alleged partiality employed by the PPS in the selection of journalists when it comes to rotation of its members assigned at the Executive Mansion.

According to EMPC Chairperson M. Dennise Nimpson, the Press Union of Liberia auxiliary group is increasingly concerned about the Presidential Press Secretary Office’s deliberate action not to rotate reporters for presidential assignments, stating that the Press Secretary Office has been in the biased business of listing reporters of their choosing with the exception of State Radio reporters.

“Colleagues, we were informed by the PPS Office that with the exception of reporters from ELBC, all reporters assigned at the Mansion will be listed rotationally for assignments, but on the contrary, only a handful of reporters out of the over twenty-five correspondents are listed.

“The Executive Mansion Press Corps sees this as a disservice to other hardworking and capable accredited reporters. We call on the PPS office to do the right thing. We expect the Press Secretary Office to know the shared-benefit and importance of rotating reporters,” Ms. Nimpson said.

The EMPC Chairperson further lamented that since the accident involving their colleagues who were riding in the President’s motorcade three years ago, the only vehicle inherited from the past administration was destroyed without replacement.

“It will sadden you to note that reporters were risked in dysfunctional vehicles during the county tour in 2021. Some of which had brake problems, and tire punchers on the road, least to talk about several mechanical faults putting journalists at risk. We have made several representations to that effect, and promises were made. As we speak, reporters at the Mansion continue to suffer vehicle problems to provide coverage for the President.

“This sometimes causes delays in assignments and ineffectiveness. Ladies and gentlemen, Executive Mansion reporters travel with the President to Sasstown, Saclepia, Fissebu, Konbo, Yekepa, etc, but when it comes to foreign travels, they are deprived. While EMPC members are limited, there is a selection of other non-assigned Executive Mansion reporters have made those foreign trips,” she stated.

Ms Nimpson further averred that despite the poor remuneration and empowerment of journalists across the country, Executive Mansion reporters never allow such to deter them from providing the public with factual information.

“For this reason, rain or shine the reporters are with the President diligently providing coverage with the little resources and equipment they have. But the reporters were in awe when they received the news that President George Weah has empowered reporters with gadgets (iPhones and Samsung) that were called upon selectively to provide coverage for a day at the inspection of a rice warehouse in Vai Town. While we harbor no hate for that, the EMPC thinks that those who continue to provide coverage for the Presidency and did tirelessly during the county tour should be the ones empowered,” the EMPC boss stated emphatically.

Decrying the establishment of a quasi-group of journalists at the Executive Mansion, Nimpson called on the Presidential Press Secretary Office to encourage some other journalists who are forming a subset group at the Executive Mansion, and are not accredited to seek authorization and join the only constituted body, EMPC.

“We want those who are found within the hierarchy of the Presidency encouraging such, to kindly discontinue. We wish to also claim the attention of the Press Union of Liberia, that there is a particular set of journalists who have decided to create tension by calling themselves Independent Journalists with the sole purpose to favor another.

“We want to emphasize that at no time there have been two groups of independent journalists covering the Executive Mansion, and we will not tolerate such. These self-acclaimed independent journalists are causing embarrassment for independent and professional journalists from reputable institutions,” the EMPC boss stated.

Continuing, the EMPC Chairperson called on President Weah and his press secretary to create the enabling environment for Liberians at have regular meeting briefing through the Office of the Presidency.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, we call on the Presidential Press Secretary and his Deputy to once again make the press bureau vibrant; we do not want to ascribe to press releases. There is a need for the weekly press briefing to resume. It was a good initiative started by the bureau,” the EMPC said.

The Executive Mansion journalists further appealed to the office of the President to secure a space as a sub-office where assigned reporters can on a daily basis converge to provide adequate coverage for the Presidency.

“We are optimistic that this appeal will fall on fertile soil and claim the attention of the President because we know him to be a listening leader,” Ms. Nimpson said.

Meanwhile, the Executive Mansion Press Corps has reaffirmed its commitment to continue its engagements with the office of the President through the Presidential Press Secretary’s office on issues that border on the well-being of journalists assigned at the Executive Mansion, hoping that their appeal reaches the President.

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