Paynesville - The President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Charles B. Coffey is calling on journalists to be professional in the discharge of their duty, stressing that journalism is a noble profession that requires discipline and noble characters.
He made the statement at the Paynesville City Hall on Friday June 16, 2017 during the PUL annual awards program.
Addressing journalists at the program, Coffey said the PUL is a noble institution charged with the responsibility to promote peace and create a level of professionalism in the media landscape.
“Award is something that denotes accomplishment, particularly in a competition where honor and prices are given based on merit."
"The PUL is an institution with the capability to drive in that direction. By that, we will be promoting a level of professionalism in the profession. void of bias and unprofessional acts,” he said.
He added that the PUL is prepared to ensure that the electoral process is held under a peaceful atmosphere, urging members of the union through the various media institutions to create a perfect platform for political actors to convey their messages.
“We have launched strengthen of conflict sensitivity in journalism and social media towards peaceful elections in Liberia, and that project is being sponsored by UNESCO."
"It will give us the opportunity to train journalists on elections reporting, which will be in conformity with the elections code of conduct and also in line with the PUL code of ethics that will be enforced by the National Media Council.
He also noted that the leadership of the PUL will not be complacent to allow political institutions, individuals, or actors infringe on the rights of journalists in the discharge of their duty, warning that despite some journalists are being unprofessional in the discharge of their duty, it does not guarantee any individual to brutalize them.
“We want to urge journalists to remain professional and exhibit high degree of commitment in the discharge of duty during the electoral process. By that, we will be minimizing report of ethical transgression and sometimes attack on journalists.
In the same vein, journalists being unprofessional in your sight does not give you the authority to brutalize them, intimidate them, coerce them and harass them at the discharge of duty, because elections have tension,” he asserted.
Also speaking at the program, Lola Osunlaly, ECOWAS Representative to Liberia, called on journalists to avoid sensational reporting or creating alternative truth, stressing that they should be committed in reporting the truth, and investigate what they report.
“We the ECOWAS finds it relevant to the question on the provision of ECOWAS treaty that is to ensure fearless and fair reporting to all practices and to all issues."
"We also believe that journalists should avoid sensational reporting or creating alternative truth. Your commitment is to report the truth at all time, and abide by the truth and to ensure that you investigate thing before they are reported.”
Osunlaly also noted that ECOWAS as an institution has organized seminars and training programs for media institutions and political stakeholders to ensure that the elections is free, fair and transparent.
“We have put in place programs for all media institutions and political stakeholders, including the National Elections Commission in an attempt to make sure that Liberians have free, fair and transparent elections."
"We believe that the press has a major role to play to help the Liberian nation and assist ECOWAS in ensuring that Liberia achieves peace, stability and harmony after the elections” he lauded.
At the same time, Dr. Francis Kaikai, Chief of Peace Consolidation of UNMIL used the occasion to call on the leadership of the PUL to decentralize the institution to support journalists in the remote part of the country.
“The PUL is not only for Monrovia, the PUL should be decentralized in the remote part of the country. Liberia future depends on moving Liberia all together as one country, and not just for those based in Monrovia, but also for those based in the counties” he said.
For her part, Patmillia D. Pawey, Media Advisory at Internews called on journalists to continue their professional way of disseminating information and to always remember that the public interest is above every other interest.
“We like to encourage journalists to become specialist reporters, because when you specialized, you go a step forward in doing different kinds of in depth reporting that will bring change to our nation and help improve the lives of the ordinary Liberians “she averred.
Meanwhile, those who won the PUL Award are: Momo Saryon of New Dawn, Sport Reporter, Tetee Gebro of UNMIL Radio, Newscaster, P. Nas Mulbah of New Democrat, Judiciary Reporter, Anthony Stevens of Power TV, Environmental and Investigative Reporter, Zezey Ballah of Bush Chicken, Health reporter and Photojournalist, Gbatemah Sennah of Bush Chicken, Land rights, Legislative and Women Rights reporter, and Moses Garsaywu of LBS, Extractive Industry reporter.