BY: JEFFERSON G. TOGBA
Since 1780s, the media continue to evolve democratically. For the most part, many experts referred to media as the “back bone of democracy”. During these periods and beyond, the media remained the bastion for the protection of democracy, civil liberties and human rights, regardless of threats to their lives.
Being cognizant of this responsibility and as Liberia gravitates toward an epochal election, the media continue to come into the limelight in terms of how it conducts itself.
In line with their professional upbringings, we expect media personalities to govern themselves as the protector to our democracy, and eschew the temptation of being resentful at one political institution, while singing praises for another.
The peace we applaud today must be maintained by members of the media. They must stop their “pretense” of cherished conversation. The fact that every Liberian wants peace does not suggest that we want hate promoter.
The media’s greatest function amongst others is invoking sensitive discussion in shaping our human mind and sustain educational platforms.
We know very clearly that no human is neutral, but your profession asks that you cultivate non-alliance at all times during discharge of your tasks. Moreover, I think the media is sizing too much looking from their programs and platform guests. We don’t want a seasonal platform host, but a watchdog agent that represents integrity and circumstance void of people.
When you sized with people rather than genuine information, then you fade out early than later. Stop your open suspicious behaviors or “sizing” while evading the issues.
Trust me. Many Liberians are losing out on your real intent of serving as ‘watch dog journalists” in these periods to elections. As a result, radio stations have political ownership or people with political interests under their sleeves. Where are the journalistic ethnics commissioned to execute?
This is clearly done by few “Talk-Shows Host” in the 2011 elections. You are the mirror for the public because the public does not go, see and talk what the media see, talk and know. You supposed to be the mouth, ear, voice and sight for the public.
Take for instance, most hosts are turning radio into the age of uncertainty since the listeners or callers’ opinions aren’t in the host view “his size or interest of defense.” Therefore, you are being laughed at or cut off. The media is the gatekeepers for our democracy, therefore, all their attitudes must depict such. As a gatekeeper, your platform does not belong to a particular aspirant, in that is it your utmost responsibility to create check and balance to avoid being spokesperson.
Interestingly, when the media present such an attitude then the morale and expectation are questioned by all. We also know that media and election are two distinct complex duties, however, it must not serve political interest at no time.
We are no longer in the past where regimes compel the media in their favor. Fascinatingly, the media freedom is conditionality through donor aids, so let know no one think it is regime liberalism-freedom of expression. Let it be clear that most of what government in the less developed and developing world is doing, is not entirely driven on internal policy, but on developed partners’ request.
Let the media take cue from Rwanda 1994 genocide. I don’t intend to suggest it here either, but the press especially radio talk show host and publisher should know how they present issues of national agenda from political actors. Remember that the media has a greater part to play during these elections and beyond because the media has an imprint on the minds of listeners and readers.
When you grant personalities your stage, the audience believes that they have come with well-informed knowledge based on facts and truths. Indeed, it is clear that there are many media outlets in our new Liberia, but do we see most of them abusing the intent of information dissemination.
Many are also serving as propagandists’ network for politicians who might not have made any significant gain at the poll. So, how do these institutions and individuals survive when their ‘size’ failed to obtain state power?
Hence, the fact is that the media must get from unbalancing the news as elections draw closer. We expect quality advice from former media experts, veterans and stakeholders to cement this new democracy and sustain the peace.
Explicitly, the former Interim Chairman for the Democrat National Committee and CNN Political Analyst Donna Lease Brazile showed inappropriate bias against Senator and presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders and subsequently shared debate questions with Hilary Clinton. CNN immediately terminated her services when the news broke, but she only admitted on March 17,2017.
Madam Brazile said “sending those emails was a mistake I will forever regret”.
Even though she previously denied doing so. Thus, judging from the scenario in the world championed of democracy, will media institution suspense or instantaneously terminate unprofessional journalistic conducts while investigation proceeds?
In fact, is it right for media entities to take side or become mouth piece for political institutions or candidates? We know accordingly that it is your constitutional right, but your career has silenced you to some extent.
For that reason, professionalism takes precedence. Civil society organizations need to call for straight adherence to the practice of ethnical standard during these elections and stop the support for candidates like it is seen with the State-owned Radio and Television Station (ELBC). This is in reference to the Liberty Party Political Leader’s assertion against LBS several days ago.
In summary to the argument, we want every media entity to hold their staff accountable when they breech professional ethnics that could shame their image. Given the way some media writers and talk-show hosts are proceeding, it is very ugly for our 21st century democratic growth. It is certainly clear that Liberia democracy is old as Liberia itself.
The Liberian media must learn to practice balance presentation, writing and equal analysis based on educating public and unaffected fact to avoid hit during any coverage. Remember that a divided media would not do us any good as people and nation. More to that, whose report do we believe when your own media colleagues find it difficult to reference your news sources?
Therefore, let these many radio stations serve the true purpose and stop the political defense for current regime/ administration or “perceive winner”. Although, many propagandistic journalists were fortunate to have grabbed government jobs, but things won’t always be the same.
Check your unprofessional practices now to avoid public condemnation. Media isn’t public relations; however, the fact must be reported every time through balance, accurate and factual platform.
Jefferson G. Togba is a lecturer at the United Methodist University; he holds master of Arts degree in Diplomacy, Law & Business. He also read extensively on international Affairs with emphasis on International Political Economy at the Jindal School of international Affairs at the O.P. Jindal Global University in India. He also served as conference panelist during the India-Africa Corporation held in New Delhi in 2014; and he graduated with bachelor degree in Business Administration at the AME Zion University, Liberia.