Liberia: Female Publisher Descends on Government over Lack of Economic Freedom for Media Institutions
MONROVIA – The Publisher of the Women Voices newspaper, Helen Nah, has blamed the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government of President George Manneh Weah for the lack of economic freedom of the media in Liberia.
In a statement issued on World Press Freedom Day on May 3, Madam Nah said though media institutions are economically empowered by their respective governments, through encouraging companies and others to advertise with these institutions, the Liberian media landscape remains “brook, and poor”
She maintained that the annual take home salaries of journalists in other countries are far better than journalists in Liberia.
Madam Nah attributed the situation to the alleged habit of the government to encourage both public and private institutions in the country to advertise on the Executive Mansion Website, instead of the local dailies or radio stations that are still struggling in the midst of harsh economic realities.
She expressed regret that both Executives of the Publishers Association of Liberia (PAL), and the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) have not been able to take any substantial actions to correct the wrong.
“Can you imagine that the annual salary of a newscaster in America, Sean Patrick Hannity of Fox News, is 40 Million, I mean a talk show host. Even in Ghana, one of our closest neighboring countries, the media has a considerable level of ECONOMIC freedom because the Ghanaian Government ensures that both public & private institutions, NGOs, INGOs, ADVERTISE in the Newspapers for economic growth and sustainability of the Free Press”.
She stated that it is now time that media owners and journalists in Liberia began strategizing ways to gain economic freedom.
“When I talk about gaining economic freedom, it is not about begging other countries through proposals or receiving political goodwill, hell no; for these means will perpetually keep us economically benighted. What is sustainable is sincere networking and self- regulation”.
According to Madam Nah, the beginning of self-regulation of the media landscape, is to define who is a publisher before becoming a member of the PAL, noting that, “I believe a publisher must have an office space, Editor and Reporters”.
She stated that though much has been done and heard about freedom of speech and the press, not much have been done or heard about the economic freedom of the Press in Liberia.
“Can you imagine that the annual salary of a newscaster in America, Sean Patrick Hannity of Fox News, is 40 Million, I mean a talk show host. Even in Ghana, one of our closest neighboring countries, the media has a considerable level of ECONOMIC freedom because the Ghanaian Government ensures that both public & private institutions, NGOs, INGOs, ADVERTISE in the Newspapers for economic growth and sustainability of the Free Press”– Helen Nah, Publisher, Women Voices Newspaper
“I believe strongly that reorganizing Liberia’s media landscape and obtaining economic freedom of the Press is a good fight for our generation”.
Madam Nah recalled that fore bearers struggled and succeeded for the promotion and protection of the rights to speak freely on critical national and international issues, including social justice, corruption, human and women’s rights, among others, but the economic freedom of the media remains a challenge today in post-conflict Liberia.
She noted that “it is managerially diminishing that most of us irregularly and underpaid our workers, who sometimes take to social media or public radio to discuss the matter”.
Madam Nah further proffered oneness, sincerity, collaboration, and patriotism as means in which the media can gain economic freedom in Liberia.
She, however, underscored the need for integrity to remain a significant factor in the works of Publishers and Journalists in the country, noting that, “we are watchdogs to society, not just bragging about pen, the forth branch of government called the fourth estate”.