Monday, February 27, 2012

Media Recounts Electoral Challenges

Several media practitionals and supporting partners over the weekend gathered at the Baptist Youth Camp off the Robert’s International Airport (RIA) highway for a two-day media retreat held under the theme ‘the Media and the 2011 Elections: Best Pratices and Lessons Learned’ to critique the role of the media in the past elections. The retreat was organized by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) with support from the USAID and IREX in efforts to identified issues of short comings on the part of the media during the 2011 elections and how those issues can be addressed to enhance the performance of the media in future elections in the country. Making solidarity remarks during the first day of the retreat, Mr. Kenneth Y. Best, Managing Director Liberia Observer Corporation, Mr. Norris Tweah, Deputy Minister for Information, Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism, and Tilly Reeds Chief of Party IREX commended the media for its credible performance during the elections. Though the orators lauded the media for performing fairly well during the 2011 election, they also noted there were some short-comings in the media that needed to be addressed. According to Deputed Minister Tweah, during the 2011 elections, the media was faced with the challenge of subjectivity and objectivity which led citizens to term some journalists as ‘partisan-journalist.’ He hoped that the retreat was going to draw guidelines that would help journalists to rise above fraud in the implementation of their duty to the people of Liberia. Day-one of the retreat was characterized by the solidarity remarks, plenary sections on various sectors of the Liberian media. During the plenary sections, it was learnt that in 2011 elections, some individuals used the media to tarnish the reputation of others; which some participants at the program said shouldn’t be accepted. Such usage according to some of the participants is usually backed by corruption because those who write maling articles collect money from the individual the story originated from. It was argued that those journalists who collected money from newsmakers were doing so because the media houses to which they belong was not paying them attractive salaries to compensite their daily lives. But such argument was debunked by Peter Quaqua, President of PUL, when he said that nothing should give journalists the audacity to compromise the profession. It was also learnt at the event that many journalists where not pushing too hard to get an accurately balance story, thus seeking refuge in the cliché ‘all efforts to contact party X prove futile.’ According to Prof. James Wolo, Head of UNMIL Media Monitoring Unit, who critique the points raise during the plenary, the media should strive for truthfulness because that what is expected of it.

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