Analysis of Western Media Negative Coverage of Africa and the Similarity and Disparity of American Press and Liberian Media

By: Josephus Moses Gray |

Author: J. Moses Gray

The mass media generally constitutes an influential and effective ingredients of the civilize world through its robust role since a vigorous media is an important component of a democratic and open society. Similarly the media curtails societal ills even without the political backbones. The role of media is complex and varied, sometimes, media is viewed positively by society, although it is considered overbearing and obnoxious by others especially for political elites, foreign capitalists and bureaucrats who feared the power of the valiant media.  But without a free and persuasive media, there is space for unwarranted attitudes which frequently lead to anti-democratic demeanors by political bureaucrat and foreign capitalists.

The purpose of this article under the caption: Analysis of Western Media Negative Coverage of Africa and the Similarity and Disparity of American Press and Liberian Media, is divided into five parts; due to the limitation of spaces by the print media, it will be published in succession based on the courtesy of heads of media institutions of which I am so grateful for magnanimous assistance to have this instructive article published free without requesting a penny.  The article deeps into some evidences of modus operandi of the western media employ to specifically dump negative news materials and information when reporting, communicating, or disseminating anything concerning the fifty-five African states and five regions and governments. But Africa’s incalculable natural wealth, which is barely available to its indigenous populations, and environment, are endangered by insatiable Western consumption.

The author’s analysis focuses on similarities and disparities of journalism in a sophisticated and less sophisticated world served as a focal point of this article. The analysis has been performed within the context of present global media practices and intricacies covering one region to another mainly concentrated on Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, and the similarity and disparity of the American press and the Liberian media.

It goes further to discuss the general historic overview and presents highlights of the successes and failures, and main transitions of contemporary media’s sophistication and influence in Africa from the colonial epoch to post-independence eras, extending to the emerging of social media. This article is divided into several sub-chapters to afford the readers the opportunity to digest the article from an informed perspective, while the author takes responsibility for any errors and wrong quotation; but let it be noted that we are all humans.

According to studies, the word media comes from the Latin word medium, and it is used as a collective noun to refer to newspapers, television, radio, magazines, films, and internet, playing a very important role in national development.

The mass media tradition role takes place from two main domains -public and the private. The public domain means the central administration directly funded and operates the various forms of the media while the private domain which is the people-centered composed of individual, religious institutions, business tycoons, and corporations operate print and electronic media. The media plays a critical role in improving governance and reducing corruption, increasing economic efficiency and stability, and creating positive social and environmental change. The media is an indispensable element of the society and a “mirror” of the contemporary world, it is the media which shapes public opinions and served as a conduit between the government and the people.

It also set the public agenda, performs watchdog role and help to expose societal ills and fights against bad governance, including corruption, abuse of state wealth, human rights and constitutional violations, and oppressive actions and policies. The media further plays several roles in the society and lessens the information gap between the government and population, inform, interpret, educate and entertain and also convey precise needed information regarding politics, economic, social cultural and environment.

The relationship between the government and the press differs in the various countries and regions since geography and environment have a greater impact on the practice of journalism. In some geographical locations, freedom of the press is unrestricted while for other places especially in autocratic nation freedom of the media is national. Therefore, to better comprehend the dynamics and practice of journalism in Africa; it is essential to make a critical comparison with the media that exists in other parts of the world. For instance, let use Liberia as a case study to set the basis of the assessment.

Interestingly, press freedom on the continent from the colonial period to the present has its own contradiction primarily due to the African 55 countries diverse cultural, ethnicities, political and geography.  Also, the diverse collection of political and models inherited from European colonial regimes and traditional African system is having a greater effect on the practice of journalism in contemporary Africa, with the continent huge illiteracy and poverty demography playing a vast part.

The media in some countries, especially the ones in which the leaders feared the media, for example, will not exercise the same influence as those in democratic societies, the ones in which the media enjoys its responsibilities and function as a free press. Even among similar types of government, other factors, such as technology, the target audience and the message, may influence the extent of media impact on the society.  It tells about the people who are geographically divided. The real influence of the media in national development will depend on the media themselves, the societies in which they operate, and the audience they reach.

There have been serious concerns of how the Western media covered or treat stories from the African continent, with media commentators and political pundits describing the coverage of developments from Africa by Western media focusing on “negative “news. Although the issue of “bad news” cut across the world from one continent to another and from a region to other but the Western media coverage of the continent is negative while on some occasions “fake news” about the continent regularly finds it way into the Western media. This is not only limited to Africa but also the Middle East, Asia and South America.

The continent media specialists have persistently criticized Western media for portraying Africa negatively globally but a Western media professor, Scott argued in this journal that this criticism has become taken for granted to the point of becoming a fairytale.  A respectable Kenyan author Wainaina (2005) printed an essay turning into derision the way Western writers, journalists and poets portrait and tells Africa’s stories globally.

Although it has not been substantiated, one can definitely conclude that the existing Western media representations of Africa are still shaped by exoticism, colonial ideas, and, eventually, prejudice and white superiority, while another argument blamed Africa’s bad leaderships, greed, corrupt practices and abused of public resources, bad governance and unworkable policies significant contribute to the negative media coverage of the continent by Western media and authors. However, there is a significant body of literature that has supported the two analyses and arguments. There is a long-standing critique of Western media coverage of Africa as the assessment has been concerned with the perceived flop of Western media to offer an equilibrium illustration of Africa.

According to Brookes (1995) the inscription of different news stories in a cohesive symbolic system of references specific to “Africa”, journalistic discourse reproduces a view of “Africa as a country”, as “a homogenous block with violence, helplessness, human rights abuses and lack of democracy as its main characteristics, with several literatures suggesting that these features have been observed nearly systematically in previous publications.

Outside scarcity and negativity, they are what make the discursive construction of Africa in international media peculiar and linked it to stereotyping, in addition, the publications tend to focus on the coverage of a narrow range of topics related to war, conflict, disaster, crisis, political instability, corruption, failed leaderships and unworkable policies and violence. With the stroke of a journalist’s pen, the African continent and her descendants are pejoratively reduced to nothing: a bastion of disease, savagery, animism, pestilence, war, famine, despotism, primitivism, poverty, and ubiquitous images of children, flies in their food and faces, their stomachs distended.

For example, Scott in his journal argued that the Western criticism has become taken for granted to the point of becoming a fairytale. A Kenyan author, Wainaina (2005) published an essay turning into disdain the way Western authors from journalists to novelists write about and portrayed Africa. He propounded that contemporary Western media representations of Africa are still shaped by colonial ideas, exoticism, feeling of white superiority and, ultimately, racism but this author, Professor Josephus Moses Gray in some illustrations disagreed.

Critical analysis of an in-depth research studied gives fairly credence to the Western media subjective inscription of Africa when reporting stories from the continent. For instance, the recent disappearance of Liberian Sixteenth Billion in Monrovia and mismanagement of public resources in the face of adjacent poverty, poor infrastructures, suffering and bad leaderships was highlighted in the Western media coverage of Liberia.

But the official statement of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) and the Office of the president of Liberia regarding the alleged missing billions has not been reported by the western media apparently for reason best known to the powerful media or perhaps for lack of detailed explanation to convene the western media. Sometime the western press argued that the statement did not meet it standard since every institution is guided by standard.

However, “negativity” is a fairly subjective criterion used by the Western media to portray Africa wholly. For instance, the wave of demonstrations and riots in, Zimbabwe, Kenya,  Guinea and several African states regarding bad governances, increment of the price of gasoline and diesels; riot in Burkina Faso in response to former President Blaise Compaoré’s attempt to amend the constitution; the violence protest in Kenya owing to disputed elections; the 2011 coordinated Arab Spring across North Africa and the persistent Boko Harm’s insurgency in Nigeria cannot be termed as biases of the Western media.

The forceful resignations of former president Robert Mugabe, Gambian politically short-circuited Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh and Jacob Zuma of Zimbabwe and South Africa, and indictment of the presidents of Kenya and Sudan by the International Criminal Court and the sentenced of ex-president Charles Taylor of Liberia, cannot be described as “negative” portrait of Africa by the Western media; these are all actualities of situation; the continent is also prone to frequent political instability and change of leaderships, rampant corruption and war.

On the other hand, little is said about Africa’s strategic importance to so called industrialized nations; the continent’s  indispensability and relevance to world development, global technology, and the wealth of nations, derived from involuntary African largesse, are not acclaimed in the media.

It has been observed that Africa’s image in the Western media is not a significantly self-portrait and it is not what you see is what you get or see for yourself. Africa is mostly treated with disdain by the Western media because media conditioning shapes, molds, and monopolizes those images.  This negative portrait of Africa cannot squally be attributed to the Western media but also to African corrupt leaderships and political bureaucrats and capitalists especially the continent’s  governments  and leaderships’  failed policies also profoundly contribute to how Africa is projected negatively globally.

It is clear fact that Africa constitutes the poorest continent in the world and is mostly attended with negative portrait and neglected by Western media. It is predominantly portrayed negatively” by the Western media on the basis that 85 percent of the stories and articles linked the continent to bad governance, insurgencies, rampant corruption  and abuse of resources, undemocratic and unworkable policies, abject crusading poverty, suffering, hunger, crimes, briberies, migration, war, protest and failed leaderships and most often, imposed unwarranted hardship.

The Western media community usually takes advantage of the failures of the continent’s media inscription of presenting the true events most beyond negativity, and gives fame positive development or soft news like developments. Both “hard’ and “soft” news need to be treated with the same prominence but in the case of Africa, the Western media focused on the hard news.

There are visible evidences of a modus operandi western media employs to precisely dump negative news materials and information when disseminating and providing converging concerning  Africa’s innumerable natural riches, which is barely available to its indigenous poverty-stricken populations and poor management of African leaders to governance in line with best democratic practices are endangered by insatiable Western consumption.

Africa’s image in the Western Media is not a self-portrait, it is not a what you see or hear is what you get since media conditioning shapes, and monopolizes the images about Africa are received sometimes with disdain and scorn. Even African descendants, who have virtually no cultural competence, essentially contribute to how Africa is projected globally. Over the past decades, media experts and scholars have composedly criticized Western media for their manner in which they unfairly report happenings on the continent, compared to other continents and regions of the world.

Whether Africa is the most neglected geographical area in Western media or not, the existing literature shows that it has consistently been one of the most neglected, while consensual observation is that the Western media coverage of the continent focuses on “negative stories” and follows a “crisis-driven news agenda. But what do we know pragmatically best about Western media coverage of Africa and other regions? This article provides an in-depth insight and analysis to address the response.

However, there are several pitfalls in reducing the analysis of Africa’s coverage to focus on “negative “news. Firstly, the phenomenon of “bad news “is not specific to Africa. De Beer (2010), for instance, found that the tone of news reports about Africa in developed media especially the Western press is predominantly negative (74.1 percent) but that it is less for other regions.  Along with the adage , “if it bleeds, it leads” the idea of news more generally is crossed by a negativity bias. But, the existing evidence for such a “negative” focus may not be as strong as insinuated by the prevalent claims in numerous literatures; this is a question of one interpretation and perception of developments on the African continent.

For instance, “Liberia is predominantly portrayed negatively” on the basis that 90 percent of the articles linked the country to corruption and failed institutions while Nigeria is portrayed negatively on the basis that 99 percent of stories and articles linked the country to crimes and terrorism. The situation is not only unique to the two countries butthe majorities of the African countries, whereas “only” 25 percent linked them to sport, democracy and infrastructure.

Although in the field of media and journalism studies, there is a significant body of useful texts that has supported Wainaina’s analysis, from the early 1990s to today multipolar world. There is a persistent criticism of Western media coverage of the African continent in media and communication studies. Broadly, this critique has been concerned with the perceived failure of Western media to offer a composed depiction of Africa.

Nevertheless, it is not clear if the African continent constitutes the most neglected region in foreign news; research by the Oxford Internet Institute found that between January 1979 and August 2013, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 13.4 million of stories as opposed to 60 million for North America and Europe combined, 32.6 million for Asia and 23.5 million for the Middle East and North Africa. The Oxford Internet Institute finding further goes on that Latin America and the Caribbean accounted for only 6.5 million, and Oceania 3.4 million.

Against the backdrop, if one were to add the countries from North Africa to those of sub-Saharan Africa, the continent would register nearly as many events as the Middle East and Asia. De Beer (2010) explores that the United Kingdom, United States of America, Europe television news coverage over the year 2008. He found that while Africa (10.8 percent) received significantly less coverage than Asia (25.5 percent), the Middle East (22 percent) and North America (21.4 percent), it nonetheless “received substantially more coverage than South America (1.9 percent).

Domatob (1994) found that crisis and disaster stories dominated the coverage of US news magazines, and Brookes (1995) explained that “civil war, civil conflict, aid, human rights, politics, crime and disaster account for 92% and 96% of all news about Africa in the American and British media. In the United States, the media emerged as a dominant social figure in the 19th century and since then; media has served the purpose of providing members of the public with real-time information on issues and news surrounding local, national and international events. The role of media is complex and varied. Sometimes, media is viewed positively by society, although it is considered overbearing and obnoxious other times.

It is clear fact that Africa constitutes the poorest continent in the world and is mostly negative portrait and neglected by Western media. Research by the Oxford Internet Institute found that between January 2000 and August 2017, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 9 million of stories as opposed to 67 million for North America and37 million for Europe, 14 million for Asia and 7 million for the Middle East. Latin America and the Caribbean accounted for only 7 million and Oceania 3 million.

De Beer (2010) explains that the tone of news reports about Africa in Western media is 54 percent negative and about 45 and 22 percent negative for Meddle East and Asia but that it is even more so for Central America which carried 195 percent negative. This narrative is not surprising because the idea of news more generally is crossed by a negativity bias since more often “negative” news or “bad” news gain publicity then the others; this has boost the widespread claims by several political pundits and media experts.

Whether Africa is the most neglected geographical area in Western media or not, the existing literature shows that it has consistently been one of the most neglected. exploring the British, American, French and German’s television news coverage for the year 2008, De Beer (2010) made a startling revelation that Africa received 10 percent media coverage far below progress on the continent while Asia got 20 percent coverage despite the much talk about China growth, Asian Tiger and Japan miracle, and 22 percent provided forthe Middle East despite of the region vicious circle conflict and insurgencies.

Several publications revealed that North America (United States of America) in 2008 received 38 percent news coverage more than any region, followed by Europe 22 percent and South America 6 percent while the balance percent goes for other region and continents. For instance, 10 percent of the western media coverage of Africa, 9.5 percent focused on “negative “news either war, corruption and protest. However, stories that received widen coverage of US news media include political, crimes, immigration, disaster  and rape while news on Africa is dominated by war, social unrest and political instability, demonstrations and riots, human rights violations, politics and corruption and failed policy.

Africa is predominantly portrayed negatively” by the Western media on the basis that 85 percent of the stories and articles link the continent to bad governance, insurgencies, rampant corruption  and abuse of resources, undemocratic and unworkable policies, adjacent poverty, suffering, hunger, crimes, briberies, migration, war, protest and failed leaderships.

Whereas the balance 15 percent of the Western media coverage of the continent directed to football-African professional footballers whose are performing abroad, democracy, natural resources, and construction. Media experts suggest that the Western media inscriptions have been perceived closely methodically in persistent depicting the continent negatively; this inscription continues to be collaborated by the media on the continent as studies have shown.

Brookes (1995) discloses that Western media portray the African continent dark and homogenous block with social unrest, political instability,the wave of demonstrations and riots, violence, helplessness, human rights abuses and lack of democracy as its main characteristics.   According to studies, predominantly news in the African press has been “negative” or unsubstantial apparently due to huge illiteracy on the continent where the population, majority go for bad news then soft news, which help to sale newspapers and increase audiences and views for radio and television stations.

Interestingly, press freedom on the continent from the colonial period to the present has its own contradiction primarily due the African 55 countries diverse cultural, ethnicities, political and geography.  Also the diverse collection of political and models inherited from European colonial regimes and traditional African system is having a greater effect on the practice of journalism in contemporary Africa, with the continent huge illiteracy and poverty demography playing a vast part.

The media in some countries, especially the ones in which the leaders feared the media, for example, will not exercise the same influence as those in democratic societies, the ones in which the media enjoys its responsibilities and function as a free press. Even among similar types of government, other factors, such as technology, the target audience and the message, may influence the extent of media impact on the society.  It tells about the people who are geographically divided. The real influence of the media in national development will depend on the media themselves, the societies in which they operate, and the audience they reach.

Unlike several other Africa countries, the media in South Africa especially the print and television in the South African society are very strong, courageous and respected. The media in South Africa serves as the gatekeeper and perform the watchdog role, especially in political transparency and fight against bad governance, including corruption, abuse of state wealth, human rights and constitutional violations and autocratic.

In Western Europe, for example,  print, radio and television  are feared by the governments and institutions due to their critical reportage and persistent in the pursue of stories to the dead end. In the region, the media performs the watchdog role, especially in political transparency, economic accountability and fight against bad governance, including corruption, abuse of state wealth, human rights and constitutional violations, dictatorial and autocratic governance by public officials and suppression of civil liberties.

For Asia and the Arab World where democracy is conditionally practiced, the media is mostly operated by the central administration, worthy class and families, and bureaucrats. The media in these regions especially China and Middle East lacks independence and “objectivity” due to constant interferences by the governments or corrupt political bureaucrats. The same goes to the media in the Russian Federation where the partly served as spokesman for the ruling regime and avoid criticism of certain key elements of the government; it is also wildly practice and visible in China and North Korea-they are the mouth-piece of government.

For the Nordic Countries, South and Central America, Caribbean and Austrian, the print media are not too influential as compared to television and electronic media which are most dominant media. The media in these regions plays an important role in the day-to-day activities of the ordinary people since it serve as a source for information and hold their officials feet to the fire.

Besides South Africa, the print media in other African countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, Burkina Faso and Senegal are vigilant in their reportage and set the public agenda and act as the gatekeeper of public issues. The internet is developing fast, mainly in urban areas, but its growth is slowed considerably by the very low level of development of telephone systems; also few media institutions in Liberia engaged into instigative journalism and report on corruption in public sector but the lack of measures by the central administration to institute action against corrupt bureaucrats helped to weaken these media institution efforts.

According to several publications obtained and analyzed reference to the evolution of journalism has shown that the print (newspaper ) started in 1605 when the first printed weekly Relation Aller edited by Johann Carolus appeared on the newsstand. Conboy (2004) discloses that radio was invested by an Italian investor Guglielmo Marconi in 1895, while the spread of broadcasting emerged in the 1920.

In his publication: Journalism: A Critical History”, Martin Conboy explained that in 1690, Benjamin Harris published his instructive Publick Occurrences the first print (Newspaper)  to appear on the newsstand in the United States of American. However, only one edition was published before the print was suppressed by the government while the Hartford Courant is the oldest print in the United States.

According to Daly (2012), the Oxford Gazette which appeared on the newsstand for the first time in 1665 was the first true newspaper in Britain. In Canada, the first newspaper to appear on the newsstand is Halifax Gazette published in 1752 by John Bushell. In the book titled: A narrative History of Journalism”, Christopher Daly revealed that Vedomosti was the first newspaper printed in Russia; first edition appeared on the newsstand in 1703.

According to other publications, corroborated by Conboy and Daly, the Cape Town Gazette was the first newspaper to be published on the African continent; it was edited by two slave dealers-Alexander Walker and John Robertson.  The first Chinese newspaper is called Shangai Wen Hui Bao. It was first published 1939; journalism in the People’s Republic of China is restricted and under the watchful “eyes” of the central governments, free speech and social media usages are also restricted in China.

According to authenticated publications, the five primary 24-Hour Major News Agencies (Wire Service) are Associated Press (AP) , Agence France-Presse (AFP),  Reuters, information Telegraph Agency of Russia ITAR-TASS and Athens News Agency-Macedonian Press Agency ANA. While the influential newspapers in the world are The New York Times, Washington Post: Wall Street Journal and L’ Monde in Paris and the People’s Daily in Beijing.

While the world’s first 24-hour leading television news networks include The RTL Group, founded on 11 May 1920 in Europe. It reaches some 120 million European TV viewers and radio listeners a day through its 24 commercial “free TV” channels and 17 radio stations in 35 countries; followed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) formed on 18 October 1922 by a group of leading wireless manufacturers including Marconi.

The list also include the Sky Television formed in November 1990 by the equal merger of Sky Television and British Satellite Broadcasting, it broadcasting has become one of the largest providers of entertainment formats in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island; Cable News Network (CNN) founded in 1980 by Robert Ted . Accordingly, CNN is seen in more than 89 million American households and over 160 million homes internationally. The Fox News Channel formed October 7, 1996 is viewed in more than 17 million homes in the United States of America and 120 million homes internationally; this network is reportedly wildly viewed in the US than CNN; Al-Jazeera News Channel is wildly viewed in the Arab world.

Having discussed Western media coverage of Africa in general, let me turn my attention to Liberia where the major challenge facing journalism nowadays is that of surviving the unfavorable media policy still on the book and persistent attacks against journalists directly or indirectly by individuals with a strong connections to successive governments which rode on the leverage of the media to get to state power through democratic or indisputable elections.

In the case of African, the larger numbers of the media lacks dominance, influence and persuasion, however, there are some similarities and disparities to that of the American media; to a large extent there is wild differences due to geographical location and the advancement of the society. For example, major happenings in America are given wild publicity and take banner headlines in the Liberian press, while the American press the situation is the opposite. One of the greater tough pillars of the American media is investigative journalism and the ability to “follow-up” stories to the end; journalists are well paid and supported.

Although media nowada ays enjoys smooth media landscape, emerging as a dominant social figure; it enables dialogue to take place and bridged the gap between government and the citizenry; it would be unimaginable for any Liberian security officers or officials operating under the orders of their bosses to lawlessly close down or burn newspaper offices or radio station, as was the case under previous regimes.  While 2016 was a throbbing year for Liberia media in general, the year saw the unprecedented death toll of journalists in the country in a single year, as the casualties of journalists in the hand of death as a result of the Ebola virus cannot be matched with other years.

The U.S. and Liberian Media: Similarity and Disparity

Unlike the United States and other developed countries, in Liberia, media institutions which constantly exposed the central administration’s transgressions and constitution violations, makes corruption and other abuses a primary target; are often a accused of detractor of the government usually branded enemy of the regime.  For other media institutions sometime do that with less attention for fears of being denied advertisements by public officials, since eighty-five percent of the advertisements in the print and aired on radio or television come from government’s agencies,, ministries and corporations.

Another sad scenario to robs the media of one of its most forceful and powerful avenue of support and defense is deeply embedded in the poor reading culture that has been lumbering gravely on the shoulder of the country’s population which supposed to raise the bar much higher in demand and production and publication of materials for daily public consumption-unlike the western world and some part of Africa.

Unlike Liberia, the media in the United States of America are very influential, vigilant and persuasive in the discharge of their functions and role to the American society. The American media are influential in the body polity of America and have the ability to influence government’s policies and decisions. However, just like other society, the American media are not perfect; they too have their own flawless and transgressions but are guided by perfection, very influential, effective, dominant and persuasive.

The American media are so respected in the society that the impact can be felt, but on the other hand, about 20 percent of the population believes what the media published or broadcast. The American media and journalists are well equipped, paid, trained, experienced and treat their assignments with dedication and commitment. But there is always opposing views in the American press – both the conservative and liberal views.

On the contrary, American media report less on vital issues obtaining outside the United States, less courtesy is given to main issues occurring in other countries as long it doesn’t affect the American national interest; except where American interest is threatened. If you go very close to Americans you will know that they are mostly interested in knowing happenings in their environment, not much involved about other things occurring in other country or region and continent, as long it does not threaten the United States national security both externally and internally.

America is a society where all are treated equally under the law. The country’s domestic policies are very unique, unlike, maybe the foreign policy. However, one might want to know the importance about America and its people. I guess there are several answers. Americans, especially in my personal interactions with professional colleagues are nice, friendly and treat others with respect. They greet people with smiles and opened hands, but on a serious note, they are direct and do not hide their feelings on issues of importance.

By just voicing out a concern, they are ready to assist; they are good observers and know how to approach situations. “Are you fine/ Are you okay? Do you have a family? Are you missing them? Have you spoken to them and what are your impressions about the time spent here? These  are just few of the questions they will ask you on a daily basis. The people of America believe in their country.

They cherish the American dream and flag so much. They fly their flag in front of their homes and offices. There is no doubt why America is the world foremost superpower. I wonder when Liberia will as a nation and people ever learn to cultivate the pride of Americans. Surely, Liberia can’t be America, but patriotism coupled with nationalism does not grow on trees nor flourishes on the supermarket’s shelves; and that is exactly and so pathetically missing from our DNA. Savannah is a beautiful city, well layout, the beautiful landscape, nice structures and beaches and home to dozens of tourists.

Free speech, press freedom and religious tolerance struck me a whole lot. They attached great respect to religious tolerance. They are good at speaking their minds on issues of national and international concerns and offer suggestions.

Unlike in my native country, Liberia where we always say, “It is the people’s thing”, the opposite exists in America. Only few Liberians are good at speaking their minds but these Liberians are often accused as being ‘troublemakers’. In Liberia, when the independent media takes position on issues, especially the ills and pitfalls of government and prominent politicians, that particular media organization and staffers are demonized as undermining the government, branded as enemy of the state, biased reporting, paid agent or instruments of yellow journalism.

The downside is that the American society cares less about happenings in other countries, except for issues like terrorism, disasters, trade, and war since they all affect the American national interest. Sometimes, the American media published materials on smaller countries; these stories are treated with less interest and in some cases compromised stories; while African media give considerable courtesy to happenings in the United States. Most Africans believe in the sophistication of the American press and hold less respect for media on the continent.

Interestingly, press freedom on the continent from the colonial period to the present has its own contradiction primarily due the African 55 countries diverse cultural, ethnicities, political and geography.  Also the diverse collection of political and models inherited from European colonial regimes and traditional African system is having a greater effect on the practice of journalism in contemporary Africa, with the continent huge illiteracy and poverty demography playing a vast part.

The daunting task for press freedom leads to the establishment of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL); was established during the administration of ex-president Tubman when a Stanton Peabody was arrested and detained for an editorial under the caption: Never Again. The Tubman’s regime felt unhappy over the editorial and detained the journalists, thus leads to the formation of PUL in 1964, with Henry B. Cole as it first president while the second, third and fourth presidents were Tuan Wreh, James L. Marshall Denies.

The Union’s past leaderships include John Scotland, Peter Naigo, T. Nelson William who also served as the first Chairman of the School of Mass Communication of the University of Liberia; Kenneth Y. Best, C. William Allen, Lamine Warity also served as the Second School of Mass Communication of the University of Liberia;  Isaac bentu and Sam Van Kesseley.

The PUL’s presidential lists include J. Siaka konneh, G. Abraham Massaley, M. Bedor Wla Freeman, Suah Deddeh, James G. Kaizolu, Terrence Saysay, Elizabeth Hoff, George Barpeen, Peter Quoquo, Kamara A. Kamara and Charles Cuffey.

About the Author: Josephus Moses Gbala-hinnih Gray, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Liberia Graduate Studies Program of International Studies. He is a native born Liberian, hails from the Southeastern village of Kayken Chiefdom in Barclayville, Grand Kru County. He is an author, professor, diplomat and scholar with a wealth of rich credentials including a doctorate in International Relations, Diplomacy and Foreign Policy Studies from Paris, France. He has authored two books, published Two Graduate Theses and a 600-page doctoral dissertation which can be read online under the theme: “Geopolitics of African Oil and Energy: China and America New Strategic Interests in Africa”. He previously at Liberian diplomatic missions in Geneva, and Paris in a dedicated and prestigious positions and worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Assistant Minister for Public Affairs.  He has written extensively and published over 60 instructive articles on variety of contemporary issues. He can be contacted at Email: graymoses@yahoo.com or via mobile +231(77824437)

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About Cholo Brooks 13375 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.