SANNIQUELLIE, Nimba County – In the wake of a rapidly growing digital media, which is affecting the income of media business in Liberia, especially the print media, National Fisheries and Aqua-Culture Authority Boss, Emma Glasco, has emphasized the need for media practitioners and institutions to venture into businesses that will help support to sustain their operations.
In her footnotes to members of the Press Union of Liberia in Sanniquellie, Nimba County, during the institution’s 58 years of existence, Glasco noted that rebranding of the media is important, but sustaining it will need investment in other business sectors that will generate income.
Other than doing this, Glasco believes the media may be swayed by others to report unbalanced and negative information that will give a bad image of Liberia
As a result, she inferred that interest in fisheries could be a perfect option, noting that there are many investment opportunities in said area.
“There are many investment opportunities. For instance, you could invest in fish farming, or get a boat and start fishing. This could provide extra revenue support to your business,” Glasco averred.
“Liberia is endowed, with many water bodies and wetlands suitable for fish farming and fishing.
Additionally, there is still a gap in our fisheries program which leads to post-harvest loss. Bridging that gap is an investment opportunity that you can take advantage of to invest.”
Currently, Glasco maintained, fisher folks need cold-storage facilities, ice supply, and an instant market for their catches and that the media interest in this direction could increase local production by at least 20% and reduce the fish demand deficit.
Also, she suggested the need to invest in supplies, such as feeds, nets, motor engines, and Mobile refrigerators, among others, as a Liberian business, which could give media houses many incentives and protect their business establishment.
Madam Glasco believes that 58-year of existence as a media body must be commensurate with self-income generation and void of liabilities.
Taking on said responsibility, Glasco maintained, would help in taking the country’s economy into the hands of Liberians, especially the fisheries sector.
She guaranteed NaFAA’s commitment to providing all the support to the media in starting up.
On the other hand, Madam Glasco explained Fisheries is more than fishing and has a lot of career opportunities, including Fisheries Economics, Fisheries Management, Fisheries Law, Fisheries Governance, Fisheries Science Aquaculture, and Oceanographic among others.
Going forward, the NaFAA Boss has proposed the introduction of a Fisheries Reporter of the Year Award, as part of the PUL Annual Award program and that NaFAA will work with the PUL to develop the technical details for this award and will provide support for the award.
At the same time, while she thinks that media marketing is essential, Glasco took a key interest in the PUL 58-Anniversary theme, “Digital Business Model, the New Way in Media Marketing”, stating that it clearly explains where the media is headed in harnessing the numerous potential in the rapidly developing digital world.
Continuing on the theme, Glasco said the Role of the Media in Rebranding for a Positive Image must take into account the effects of the contents published.
She sees digitization as the hallmark for investment and service delivery in today’s business world as the media transitioned rapidly from the traditional paper-based form of marketing and governance to the new digital world.
“For instance, the world has digitalized every sector and described it, either as e-marketing, e-commerce, e-Governance, e-Education, e-Health, e-Media, e-Banking, and so forth,” Glasco added.
“They all have the same objectives, improving service deliveries to the clients and maximizing profit. It is about reaching the targeted beneficiaries or consumers.”
She recorded that in Liberia, data shows that the country has more than 1.1 million people, which is a 22% internet penetration rate, and that consumers are actively connected to the various online sites and are following the social media space.
This, according to the NaFAA Boss, provides a rich platform for business opportunity, marketing, and wealth creation.
She said: “We could smartly learn from the success stories of other countries in the sub-region. For instance, it was estimated that between 2018 – 2022, the Ghanaian media and entertainment industry would reach a total of USD 1.5 billion 2022, increasing at a 14.2% compound annual growth rate according to Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) outline.”
“In Sierra Leone, according to the Sierra Leone government, Internet penetration is at 7 percent with mobile penetration at 40 percent.
The country has leaped from the PC age directly to the mobile age. The growth in mobile and Internet access is changing the way organizations are marketing in Sierra Leone and also leading to new development opportunities for the country’s population.”
Madam Glasco viewed this as a new awakening for Liberia to not be left behind, further encouraging more people, especially young people to utilize the opportunities in the digital world to start up their businesses.
She recognizes the Liberian media for taking serious advantage of the opportunity and making a tremendous transition to innovation.
“Our newspapers are now online, talk shows are live on Facebook and other platforms, even our television stations are now, streaming live on social media,” Glasco maintained.
Nevertheless, Madam Glasco explained, that the real influence of digital media on national development will depend on the content developers, the societies in which they operate, and the audience they reach.
Therefore, she wants the current generation, to challenge itself in making the change void of politics; but patriotism and rebranding the country to attract investors.
She said to address this, content and publication in the digital media space must sell an attractive brand to redirect people to Liberia and change their views and thinking about the country on the international stage.
Hence, she said the media remains one of the most efficient ways of rebranding a country’s image, disseminating information for better service delivery, and helping expand business territories by attracting investors.
Congratulating the PUL on celebrating its 58th Anniversary, Madam Glasco praised the PUL for demonstrating a strong commitment as a reliable partner in the advocacy and protection of the right of freedom of speech.
For his part, PUL President Charles Coffey used the occasion to re-emphasize the need for more solidarity and unity among media practitioners in the country.
He commanded everyone, including colleagues including former PUL Vice President Octavin T Williams who has embraced the path of peace, unity, and reconciliation.
Coffey said if Mr. Williams had not embraced peace, most PUL members who were reluctant of the Union’s activities and were staying away would not have been back with a renewed vigor for Pres freedom and freedom of expression.
“As human beings, there will sometimes be disagreements, but our ability to disagree to agree in the interest of the Union is paramount.
The PUL which is our common denominator is above all of us. So we are all together,” Coffey stated.
At the same time, Coffey called. on the media to continue reporting balance, impartial objective, and accurate information to assist prevent and resolve conflict.
According to the PUL Boss, lack of information can, at any stage of a conflict, make people desperate, restless, and easy to manipulate.
He noted that Journalism can not only help to distribute information but also counter hate speech and create an environment of balanced opinions, an information equilibrium, which should be used for said purpose.
“Responsible journalism does not just re-publish press releases but is truly concerned with a truthful, balanced, and fair account of events,” he said
“To achieve this journalists have to stay clear of judgmental representations and describe reality without embellishment.”
Coffey elucidated that as the country goes through the 2023 general and presidential elections the way the media will handle its reportage will show to the world that Liberians are indeed great.
This greatness, he said will continue when the media play its social responsibility role in ensuring peaceful national elections.
He also noted that conflicts normally affecting media practitioners include tensions and sometimes confrontational interaction between security forces and journalists one of which sources of tension occurs when journalists are trying to access information, where, the security can doubt the legitimacy of the journalists’ sources, whereas journalists often find information from security limited or not delivered in time for their deadline.
Coffey said: “Now, any measures the state takes, which limit freedom of the press either directly or indirectly are prima facie interferences with the right of the media.”
“Both the security and the media need to respect each other and a memorandum of Understanding was signed a few years back because it defines how they must treat each other, and citizens’ right to freedom of expression. In a climate where journalists are safe, citizens find it easier to access quality information and many objectives become possible.”
On the other hand, he warned that being a journalist or media worker does not make anyone above the law and it is important that said is reciprocated.
Similarly, Coffey stated that the gains made as a country in fostering press freedom and freedom of expression are irreversible.
Meanwhile, Coffey stressed the importance to counter misinformation and disinformation to ensure peace and stability in the country.