Liberia: Deputy Speaker Wants Media institutions Expose and Shame Incorrect Sources

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BARCLAYVILLE, Grand Kru County – In an effort for journalism to remain a noble and credible profession in the country as the fourth estate, coined in mediocrity times and maintain tremendous power and influence in society, Deputy Speaker Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa said media institutions should expose and shame false sources.

The Deputy Speaker also cautioned Liberian journalists to  stop writing or broadcasting false stories  to get someone to react purposely to solicit bribes.

Arguing that the press is the primary guidance of democratic practices in the world and that the only way information can’tt only be a public good but also a cherished commodity,  media institution  must  take steps to manage its reputation by exposing  source (s) who lied to them by planting that story  in order to damage the reputation of another and must stop the practices of yellow journalism ( exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism)!  mainly deried  from false sources.

The Grand Kru County District #2 Representative in a  poignant tone and without mincing his  words on  Monday, May 3, serving as a guest speaker at the 2021 World Press Freedom Day organized by the  Press Union of Liberia (PUL) in Barclayville City Hall, Grand Kru County, spoke on the global theme: ” Information as a Public Good.” The invitation to serve as  Guest Speaker coincided with his 45 Communities’ Tour and 3rd Annual Legislative Report.

The Deputy Speaker told Liberian journalists that the obligation to protect or ensure the freedom and independence media falls on everyone’s shoulder, and everybody has a part to play.

“This is when you have what is called a source, and this where those of us who are not journalists tend to move out the worst one when it comes to you. Journalists, all of you to a form, claim you protect your sources, but l believed that we must move to a day where the journalism profession of that or amend the creed so that when a source lied to you, you no longer has that obligation to protect that source,” the Deputy Speaker said.

“What do l mean, in the competition of ideas in the political arena, all politicians have enemies, and an opponent of an politician deliberately plan a story to you as a source which that politician knows or should know is false, and the point is to damage the character or reputation of an opponent or to gain an unfair advantage by using you. You should avoid that whenever a media institution is exposed as having printed or having proffered a story that is false and untrue that  media institution  must  take steps to manage it’s reputation by exposing the source who lied to them by planting that story  in order to damage the reputation of another.”

In support of the second part of the global theme: “…30 years of the Windhoek Declaration,” which is about the promotion of dree,  independent and pluralistic African media, Deputy Speaker Koffa said there are indicators of freedom, independence and the growing of media in the Liberia landscape, and emphasized that the prolification of journalism and journalists is an indication that the country is on its way of mastering the Windhoek declaration and ensuring free and independent press.

Listing the second indicator, the Deputy Speaker said in an effort to avoid the imprisonment of journalists for free speech, free reporting or independence from government or government source,  the elimination of criminal liable law has been accomplished and effective in theories and practice, however, the Constitution requires that people including journalists should be responsible of what they print and say and so the information as a  public goods has a primary requirements of truth.

“Journalists must print the truth because it’s a patriotic duty to the truth,” Cllr. Koffa asserts.

Liberia’s Deputy Speaker said when people fall below the truth or don’t print or speak the truth, the jurisprudence offers additional protection  by putting an additional burden by not finding the people or journalists liable or slander unless the politicians or complaints can  prove  what is called “the malice” – that is the journalists reckless disregard to the truth to move to print a story purposely to damage a politicians because he has an  anger or animosity against the politicians.

Meanwhile, the  Grand Kru lawmaker congratulated the government, especially  President George M. Weah for taking several measures for ensuring free and independence press and indicated that a year ago the President donated an office,  vehicle and resources to the Female Journalists Association  of Liberia (FEJAL), knowingly in the media  that access to free building, vehicle and resources are crucial to the development of journalism.

The Grand Kru County District #2 Representative urged the government to continue on the path of buttressing the effort of media institutions by making sure that debts owed to media institutions or journalists who are public servants must be paid.

“Debts owed to media institutions, as a  commercial entities, the larger conveyor of goods and services to withhold invoices for (media institutions) for a very long time is  to withhold the independence and freedom of the press; so we encourage the government to continue to move along that line in ensuring that arrears in ensuring that arrears are not part of journalist (media institutions) business,” Cllr. Koffa averred.

The Grand Kru lawmaker said  journalists have grave responsibilities when it comes to putting forth truth and using information as a public good, because the US States’ reports, most notably quoted in this year’s report, a lot of newspapers and radio stations.

He intoned that if journalists printed stories or broadcast are not true, but quoted by reputed and credible institutions, it is dangerous to the truth and very dangerous to the profession because when eventually when the compilers or the investigators of the US Report realized that the Liberian media isn’t reliable having found they were layuntrue, the Liberian media will lose credibility.

” I am proud that indeed they are now looking  to you and to your sources and your reporting as a source of the combination of the US human rights report but that heighten your responsibility and your standard in ensuring your profession and professionalism,” he said.

“Journalists should abide in the manner that  promote media institutions, the journalism profession and yourself as credible reporters as well as protect the public to rely on good information to increase the public debate and the ability policy makers to make  good  public policy based on the information provided and helps across the board how the country is perceived locally and internationally as to what  the people are doing as a county.”

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