Diaspora Liberian, T.Ralph Brown Writes Open Letter To Liberia Media And The Press Union of Liberia

T. Ralph Brown, a Liberian studying in the United States also the Executive Director of Media United to Enhance Democracy (MUED, has written the Liberian media and the Press Union of Liberia expressing concern affecting Liberian and its people.

Below is the full text of his concern:

Greeting to you, my friends:

As I hope most people reading this letter will realize, I once served as the Executive Director of a human rights group called Media United to Enhance Democracy (MUED). We organized to defend and protect the rights of journalists primarily. I am profoundly proud of the work we have done over the years.

There has always been this concern of “who watches the watchdog in Liberia?” It is an inquiry about how we can hold the media accountable. And my response has always been the same, ‘let the watchdog watches itself.’ It is a call to self-watch or self-regulate. It is not the government’s responsibility or external forces to regulate the media.

Such is why I am against the law that provisions the accreditation of media institutions to the government of Liberia. If I am in authority, do you think I want to accredit institutions seen as anti-government? Remember, we all have our inherent biases that outwardly reflect with the most straightforward opportunity to manifest. Punch FM is a case study. The government of Liberia has refused to grant her accreditation, even though the same government registers her. In short, the government of

Liberia (GOL) lacks the impartial will to accredit media institutions, and subsequently, such authority should lie with the PUL and not GOL.

I would therefore like to posit self-regulation by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and the media. We cannot have a sector that is not self-regulated and still does not want to be externally regulated. This self-regulation should entail journalists holding each other accountable, as well as a robust PUL enforcing its code of ethics no matter who is involved. I know some institutions feel bigger and powerful than the PUL, but my response to them is that no one can be too big or powerful than your parent.

There have been serious concerns about the role of some journalists/media institutions in our democracy, especially in the period leading up to the 2023 general and presidential elections. One notable instance is Sieh, R. (2022, January 12): Solicitor General, Judge Talking With The Criminal. FrontPage Africa https://frontpageafricaonline.com/news/liberia-solicitor-general-city-court-judge-believed-to-be-in-deal-with-main-suspected-criminal-in-major-money-laundering-case/.

This reportage is breathtaking on so many levels, and I am astonished that not a single member of the media has said anything. Firstly, Rodney Sieh, the publisher, should have done everything to make sure he heard from the Judge before publishing this story. Secondly, Rodney should have made the evidence (Judge call log) public to clear all public doubt and subsequent confusion.

He should also be giving the evidence to the proper authority to remove this Judge if he did violate his code of ethics. But none of these were done. Instead, Rodney ran and published a story that impugned the Judge’s credibility without hearing from him. The Judge, Jomah Jallah, has written the PUL seeking redress, arguing he had NEVER spoken with the person named in the article. By publishing the call log, Rodney would have avoided any semblance of bias and confusion.

The PUL and media members have to address this with utmost seriousness; else, we forfeit the moral authority to chastise the Judge if/when he decides to use his power in keeping with the law to hold Rodney accountable. This is not the first time Rodney has violated his journalist ethics. In 2013, the court found Rodney guilty on libelous charges after he was sued by Dr. Chris Toe, former Agriculture minister. He was jailed, a decision we protested, even though we knew Rodney was wrong. The court later freed him on “compassionate grounds” after some interventions. Even the Daily Observer had to call him out for his ethical violation.

Against this backdrop, we are again asking the media and PUL members to take self-accountability seriously. Fighting proxy war has never been the role of the press. The media is the Watchdog of society, and they have to continuously play that role to enhance the credibility and morale of the journalism profession.

Long Live the PUL! Long live the Liberia Media!!

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