Logo of the Press Union of Liberia

The Press Union of Liberia is supposed to be that umbrella that Liberian journalists and all other journalists practicing the noble profession in Liberia, can run under for shelter when the rain of intimidation from the powers that be, begins to fall on them.

Sadly, the present Union doesn’t seem to be that “umbrella” it once was back in the day when the Union had teeth to bite and chew. The umbrella’s covering now has many holes, which are allowing the rains to fall on journalists; thereby making these professionals to have no backing from a professional body that has lost its barking power. This is so because of political linage, tribal affiliation and lack of will to stand up and do what is right for and by its members.

This present leadership of the Press Union of Liberia, under the lead of Mr. Charles Coffey, seems to have lost it.

Because Mr. Coffey and his team of co-leaders at the helm of the Press Union’s leadership have lost their balls to act, the only thing that seems good in their eyes now a day and which they have resulted to, whenever one of their members is intimidated, is to issue some useless press release. That’s it.  

The Union needs to move past issuing these useless and toothless press releases that have never yielded tangible and fruitful outcomes in recent past.

In the face of continual growing threats against media institutions and personalities, the Press Union, whose more than 500-strong members are not short of ideas, needs to adopt a more radical approach to hammering back at individuals and institutions that wrongfully hit on any of its members.

Mr. Coffey, the Union under your watch has become that salt that has lost its yumminess. The Union was once very tasty; the whole nation and even its members, knew it. Consequently, the Press Union of Liberia’s relevance is no longer felt in the social governance structure of the nation.

You and your team of leaders need to and should understand that gone are the days of these types of very weak and soft approach to seeking a pragmatic redress from the powers of the day. The Union should absolutely stop just talking and taking in every flimsy explanation that comes from those institutions and individuals who willfully hurt its members only for them to come back and say “sorry” or “We will take administrative action.”

This all-powerful Press Union needs to now wake up and stop continually snoozing around town waiting on your international partners to do for you what you can do for and by yourself. You saw what the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), an international organization you affiliate with, did on Saturday, February 15, as regarding the death of our colleague, Zenu K. Miller of Okay FM. You were very belated in your response to the same situation.

The Union’s continual slumber symbolizes to your adversaries humiliation and weakness on your part. We think the Press Union of Liberia is not weak as the present cream of leaders have made it to be. It’s strong and can once again be that ever vivacious movement for change in Liberia.

The Union should from now be moving swiftly to organize and call for peaceful sit-in actions all around the country whenever the interest of any of its members is proven to be threatened.

It was not established more than 50 years ago on September 30, 1964, to be pulled around at the whims and caprices of anyone in power and just to be called to the table to wine and dine with those who continually hurt its interest. While there is always the need to form partnership, it shouldn’t enter any partnership only to let down its guard.

Basically, the Union was set up to advocate for press freedom and the protection of journalists. We no longer see it standing tall for its members, who should be the life and blood of the organization.

All is not lost, Mr. Coffey. Your leadership can still restore the tastiness in the “salt;” you know what to do!