MEET THE MEDIA AGAIN -Says ALJA, as it Lauds Weah’s Reach-out to Media – Describes Minister Nagbe’s statement as “inappropriate”

The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) says it welcomes President, George Manneh Weah, recent unsolicited reach-out to members of the local Liberian media in the wake of the ongoing rift between some officials of his administration and the independent press.

ALJA says although the outcome of the President’s meeting with a segment of the Liberian press corps on Friday, December 28, 2018, remains undisclosed, he must be commended for taking the lead in calming the situation.  ALJA maintains “The President demonstrated leadership”.

The Association in a press release issued on January 1, 2019, described the relationship between the media and the Liberian government as inseparable. The Association says it is imperative for officials of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led administration and the media to co-exist if, Liberia is to make progress; and remain a peaceful and stable nation in the years ahead.

“No society the world over thrives in the absence of a vibrant independent media. The media’s role is to objectively report happenings in societies; and the role of governments is to create the enabling environment,” the ALJA press release quoted the Association’s National President, Moses D. Sandy, as saying.

ALJA says it is unfortunate that the leadership of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and some of Liberia’s top-notch independent journalists didn’t attend the December 28th meeting because they were reportedly not extended formal invitations. However, the Association proposed that the office of the President and the PUL work in unison for the reconvening of another media gathering that would bring together the Union’s leadership, senior media executives and some officials of the Liberian government including the President for an amicable resolution of the current impasse. ALJA says the prevailing crisis must come to an immediate end because it is hurting the country and its people.

Meanwhile, ALJA is calling on President Weah to advice officials of his administration to eschew the tendency of referring to news reports emanating from journalists and media they dislike as “fake news”; and stop accusing journalists of extortion and blackmailing in the absence of supporting evidences. ALJA noted such actions undermine press freedom and create an unnecessary hostile working relationship between the media and the government.

At the same time the Association is calling on Liberian journalists and media institutions to exercise due diligence in the gathering, vetting and reporting of news stories, especially those that are controversial. ALJA says doing so, would ensure accuracy and objectivity in the media.

Touching on the Minister of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Lenn Eugene Nagbe, recent characterization of the PUL as a “useless” entity because of its alleged failure to regulate journalists and media institutions in the coverage of happenings in Liberia, ALJA termed the Minister’s statement as inappropriate.

The Association said even though Minister Nagbe has since retracted his comment, it believes the Minister’s verbal assault was deliberate; and it was meant to shame and ridicule the Union and its leadership. ALJA noted the Minister inflammatory comment about the Union and its leadership exacerbated the ongoing crisis between the government and the media.

Regarding the PUL leadership recent indefinite suspension of the honorary membership of Minister Nagbe, ALJA says it supports the Union’s leadership decision. The Association said the PUL Executive Committee, which is clothed with the authority of administering the daily affairs of the Union has the right to take punitive or corrective actions against any PUL member for acts inimical to the interest of the organization. The Executive Committee is the second highest decision-making body of the PUL.

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