LIBERIA: U.S. Envoy Urges Liberian Media To ‘Use Journalism Wisely’

“Media outlets in Liberia must use their powerful tool of journalism wisely,” United States Ambassador Deborah Malac has cautioned.

She noted that journalism improves the country and lives of the people when it is used well, but it can be a destructive weapon when it is used poorly.

In a statement published by local dailies Monday, Malac said good reporting is an essential part of democracy in that it helps people understand what is happening in their country and with their government.

She pointed out that good reporting also enables people to become better citizens and respond to issues that affect their lives, adding, “Bad reporting is incendiary; leading to public discontent and reaction that is not in keeping with building a strong, stable country.”

Malac indicated that the basic tenets of good reporting are accurate and verifiable information confirmed by multiple sources, adding that free press is the ability of the media to report on all events and issues that affect the lives of the public without interference or limitation by the government.

She emphasized: “It does not mean that the reporter can pull together unrelated quotes to make an article reflect his or her personal point of view.”

She recalled a press roundtable she had recently during which she pointed out progress she has seen as well as areas of concern that need the attention of all the people of Liberia.

“However, Front Page Africa misrepresented both the content and the tone of what I said; especially egregious among the many misrepresentations was a quote attributed to me that questioned the readiness of Liberia’s security forces to assume responsibility as UNMIL draws down,” Malac said.

In apparent clarification to the UNMIL drawdown story, she indicated: “We have confidence that overtime the government and the people of Liberia are developing the mechanisms, systems and institutions to assume responsibility for their own security; and that really is something that has to happen.”

“It’s been a long time coming, UNMIL has now been here for 12 years, almost 13 years, that’s a long time for a peace-keeping mission. Over the last several years, their actual role in terms of maintaining security in the country has really been diminishing.

“You see them around, but they’ve been drawing down gradually over the last couple of years. So, it’s an inevitable process that has to happen.

 We work, the UN works with the Liberia National Police, Armed Forces of Liberia and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Other partners are working with the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization in gradually developing their capacity to take on responsibility,” the American diplomat said.

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