By Weah Karpeh |
Liberia has aged with respect. Independent nearly 200 years ago is a remarkable feat many nation-States in Africa wished they attained. The glory of existing that long, and having the fortitude to respond to perennial calls to confront the storming blocks to freedoms on the African Continent are part of the reasons Liberia must continue to be acclaimed.
As a result of the long years the Country has existed, The Motherland has done mammoth to inspire, and to lead the creation of great institutions that navigate world affairs today. The establishment of the United Nations, African Union, Economic Community of West African States, Mano River Union and many others can partly be credited to Liberia.
Additionally, Liberia left its doors ajar to African liberation movements and their leaders to group or regroup. Also, the Country threw its invaluable passports to the liberation fighters summarily landing them to Liberia citizenships they sailed with throughout their struggles.
These efforts had a nationalist media that buttressed them. LIBERIA HERALD and LIBERIAN STAR are two of the media houses that progressively supported the Country’s political leaders’ quest to see Africa liberated entirely. The media devoted their front pages, editorials, columns and even letters to the editor to elevating the support The Motherland gave. This, ultimately boosted Liberia’s prestige, morale and standing on the world-stage.
How come the media is yet to do likewise today? Has the sense of belonging evaporated? After all, self-government is independence. Independence is self-determination where the media must set progressive agendas, and inspire, motivate and tickle the masses to ramp up the standing of their Nation.
By the way, journalism studies teach that Proximity (nearness, closeness, immediacy, etc.) is a characteristic of news. Technically, it confines media houses or reporters to not cover and report unaided any environments they are not part of. This will prevent mispresentation of facts due to unfamiliarity.
On the other hand, in practical news writing, Proximity requires media houses or reporters to project the personalities, names, job titles, towns/cities, political systems and governance structures above others. For example, a Liberian media house or reporter must first mention the name of President George Weah before any visiting President’s in reporting the news. No matter the standing of the country of the visiting President, Weah must be cited before the visitor because the news is about, for and of Liberia and Liberians.
With this one, the media is yet to come to terms. They have become political in covering and reporting the news with some drifting to partisanship reporting when they ought to be doing a clear Political Reporting.
It would be a fair assessment if one attributed this to the years of war when renowned and amateur practitioners disseminated one-sided stories of warring groups and their leaders they associated with for survival, perhaps. There was the “Greater Liberia Press, and Monrovia Press”. Both sides worked irrespective of the Dos and Don’ts and the ABC of Journalism. In 14 long years, they aided and abated the bloodletting upon The Motherland through the unprofessional and unjournalistic pens and microphones. Ghosh!
As if the separatist reporting did not do harm, the houses and practitioners volleyed their bad journalism to covering and reporting the respective elections for President and Legislators in 1997, 2005, 2011 and 2017. Like the media houses, reporters were fragmented along party and candidate lines thus partly feeding the public with partial and one-sided information upon which they formed opinions and voted.
This should not continue. Liberia deserves a nationalist media that inspires creativity and innovation. In many respects, Liberians must have a media that motivates them to partner even in setting up and managing small businesses in agriculture, art & culture, tourism, appropriate technology, manufacturing, etc. It is this Media Hub Liberia Inc., a consultancy I manage, aspires to see with an upcoming roundtable on ‘Media as a Business’, if COVID-19 dies