LIBERIA: PUL Executive Committee Endorses Tubmanburg Communiqué

PUL President, Charles Coffey, Jr.

The Executive Committee of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has mandated the Leadership of the Union to deposit the recently donated ten thousand United States dollars to the PUL in a special account.

Dr. Daniel E. Cassel, a Liberian Philanthropist donated the amount to the PUL during the celebration of the Union’s 56th Anniversary in Tubmanburg, Bomi County where he served as keynote speaker.

Members of the PUL Leadership have also been directed by the PUL Executive Committee to convene a special Executive Committee Meeting of the Union to deliberate the status of the Press Union of Liberia 14th Street property in Sinkor.

According to a PUL release, all executive committee members, managers, publishers and media development practitioners are cited to the special PUL EC meeting slated for Friday, October 9, 2020. The meeting will commence at 12noon at the Union’s Headquarters.

The Press Union of Liberia ownership of the 14th Street land in Sinkor is being challenged in court by a young executor of the Intestate Estate of Joseph P. Holcomb.

Meanwhile, the PUL Executive Committee has directed the Union’s Leadership to commission an inquest into the controversial one hundred thousand United States dollars donated by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the construction of the journalists’ body headquarters as soon as possible.

Moreover, the Tubmanburg Communiqué issued at the end of the 56th Anniversary of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has been endorsed by the Executive Committee of the Union. The Executive Committee is the second highest decision making body of the Press Union of Liberia in the absence of congress.

BELOW IS THE COMMUNIQUE

Communiqué Issued at the End of 56th

Anniversary of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL)

Held in the City of Tubmanburg, Bomi County, Republic of Liberia

PREAMBLE 

Members of the Press Union of Liberia and media practitioners from across the country gathered in Tubmanburg, Bomi County from September 28 -30, 2020 to celebrate the 56th Anniversary of the PUL under the theme: ‘Impartial Journalism Contributes To Flourishing Democracy: Why Stay Independent’

The three-day event rallied Liberia’s journalism community to openly discuss issues affecting the media landscape; and to collectively brainstorm and proffer strategies to tackle unprofessional, partial and unethical practices.

On day one, the Tubmanburg gathering also held one edition of the prestigious PUL Edward Wilmot Blyden Forum, which brought together three of the five senatorial candidates in the county into a direct triangular media-politicians-public engagement on governance issues that covered health, education, agriculture and social services.

On day two, three important sessions were held. One session on the ‘Essence of True Independent Journalism During Elections’ explored underlying reasons and suggesting solutions for Liberian journalists to stay truly independent during elections at all times. Two other sessions were held on understanding the proposed 2020 referendum and the PUL Code of Ethics and Elections Reporting Guide.

DISCUSSIONS

Participants reaffirmed that the media has a stake in the running of affairs of the country and are therefore very concerned about happenings in the national space. Discussions at the events surrounded two main issues: Independent Journalism and PUL position on the pending National Referendum.

Independent Journalism  

Whereas, there is a unanimous agreement among participants that public endorsement, declaration of support and campaigning by practicing journalists for politicians during electioneering period is concerning;

Whereas, there is a general consensus that the poor or lack of salary for journalists is a contributing factor to the reduction of quality in media content in Liberia;

Whereas, participants do acknowledge a significant number of media entities are owned by politicians and people with political interest, hence development of standing orders that affect true independence and quality journalism;

Whereas, there is a general consensus about the need to create strong regulations on the establishment and running of media entities that make owners, managers and workers more accountable to the public;

PUL Position on the National Referendum

Whereas, participates raised concerns about the timing  as well as the level of citizens’ awareness and level of knowledge about the propositions listed for voting in the pending national referendum;

Now, therefore and in view of the aforementioned, participants at the 56th Anniversary of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) held in the City of Tubmanburg, Bomi County, Republic of Liberia, from the 28th -30th of September, 2020, do hereby make these recommendations, which are in addition to already existing PUL guidelines to regulate professional, fair and independent.

These recommendations may be implemented in the short, medium and long terms as determined by the leadership, executive committee and membership of PUL in line with the Constitution of the PUL and Code of Ethics for Journalists.

RECOMMENDATIONS 

I.  That practicing journalists must, at all times, avoid the temptation of publically endorsing and declaring support for politicians before, during and after electioneering period;

II.  That the PUL should ensure that media institutions owned by politicians must at all times maintain professional and ethical standards, including provision of accurate, balanced and clear news content that are also conflict-sensitive; and ensuring that no practicing journalist is required by media owners and managers to play propagandist roles;

III. That the PUL should continue to work with the government and partners towards significant media reform, including revisiting existing guidelines/regulations for the establishment and running of media institutions;

IV. That the PUL must accelerate ongoing efforts towards the establishment of the proposed Independent National media Commission with sectoral regulatory mandates;

V. That the PUL must reignite conversations and final agreement with media owners and managers on the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA);

VI. That the PUL should re-enforce its media monitoring to track the performances, ethical and professional standards of media institutions across the country, and accordingly report to the republic its findings on a regular basis;

VII. That the PUL demand the government get to the bottom of acts of brutality meted out against journalists and PUL members. Failure to do so without delay, the PUL will use other remedy to secure justice for our manhandled colleagues in line with the due process of law.

VIII. That the PUL should source additional resources to empower community radios to ensure independence and objectivity;

IX. That the PUL should write the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the National Legislature informing them of a unanimous conclusion by the media community that pending national referendum is untimely, and therefore the Commission should not proceed with the process until further public education and sensitization are conducted.

Done in the City of Tubmanburg, Bomi County in the year AD 2020

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About Cholo Brooks 14321 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.

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