Liberia: Presidential Reporters Decry Poor Coordination by Press Office, but Press Office Reacts￼
Monrovia – Reporters covering the Liberian Presidency, under the caption, Executive Mansion Press Corps have decried poor coordination from the Presidential Press Office, which they said is creating hitches for their coverage of the Presidency.
Addressing the press Monday, May 16, Executive Mansion Press Corps Chairperson Dennise Nimpson said the Presidential Press office has been brutal in denying reporters from independently carrying out their functions at the Presidential Press Office.
Madam Nimpson termed it as disheartening that besides interrupting their functions to report in their favor, the Press Office has also been selective in rotating coverage at the Presidency, especially on foreign trips.
“Colleagues, we have assembled you here to highlight issues, we, members of the Executive Mansion Press Corps are confronted with in the discharge of our work,” Simpson said.
“We have grown increasingly concerned about the Presidential Press Secretary Office’s deliberate action not to rotate reporters for presidential assignments.”
According to her, it is frustrating that the Press Secretary’s Office will continuously be in the biased business of listing reporters of their choice except for State Radio reporters when reporters assigned there were informed of being rotational.
She said: “Colleagues, we were informed by the PPS Office that except reporters from ELBC, all reporters assigned at the Mansion will be listed rotationally for assignments, but on the contrary, only a handful of reporters out of the over twenty-five correspondents are listed.”
The Executive Mansion Press Corps Chairperson as said the action was a ‘disservice’ to others who they said are hardworking and capable accredited reporters.
She called on the PPS office to do the right thing by putting the reporter assigned at the Executive Mansion first.
Moreover, Nimpson stressed that it is sad to note that since the accident of our colleagues three years ago involving the President’s motorcade, the only vehicle inherited from the past administration was destroyed without replacement.
As such, she said reporters are unable to go far distances, especially out of Montserrado to cover President George Weah’s activities.
“It will sadden you to know that reporters were risked in dysfunctional vehicles during the county your,” Nimpson noted.
“Some of which had brick problems, and tire punchers on the road, least to talk about several mechanical faults putting journalists at risk.”
She said several interventions made to ensure reporters safely travel to cover President Weah has fallen On deaf ears.
Simpson said this situation has left reporters at the mansion to continuously suffer vehicle problems to provide coverage for the President.
The Executive Mansion Press Corps Chair further decried that this situation sometimes causes delays in assignments and ineffectiveness for their reportage.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Executive Mansion reporters travel with the President to Sasstown, Saclepia, Fissebu, Konbo, Yekepa, etc but when it comes to foreign travels, they are deprived,” she noted.
“While EMPC members are limited, there is a selection of other non-assigned Executive Mansion reporters who have made those foreign trips.”
At the same time, Nimpson said reporters were in awe when they received the news that President George Weah has empowered reporters with gadgets (iPhones and Samsung) that were called upon selectively to provide coverage for a day at the inspection of a rice warehouse in Vai Town.
She said, while the reporter harbored no hate for that, the EMPC believes those who continue to provide cover for the Presidency and did tirelessly during the county tour should be the ones empowered.
She also call on the Presidential Press Secretary Office to encourage some other journalists who she said are forming a subset group at the Executive Mansion, and are not accredited to seek authorization and join the only constituted body EMPC.
“We want those who are found within the hierarchy of the Presidency encouraging such, to kindly discontinue,” she emphasized.
Simpson emphasized that at no time, there have been two groups of independent journalists covering the Executive Mansion and will not tolerate such and wants the Press Office to be proactive.
Simpson said: “There is a need for the weekly press briefing to resume. It was a good initiative started by the bureau.”
Meanwhile, the EMPC has appealed to the office of the President to secure a space as a sub-office where assigned reporters can daily converge to provide adequate coverage for the Presidency.
In the same way, the Executive Mansion Press Corps has reaffirmed its commitment to continue its engagements with the office of the President through the Presidential Press Secretary’s office on issues that border on the well-being of journalists assigned at the Executive Mansion.
Reacting to the statement, Deputy Presidential Press Secretary Smith Toby said at no time has the Executive Mansion given a gesture to any separate group of journalists covering the presidency.
Toby said it was unfortunate that journalists covering the president will say they have not been assured good access to coverage.
“All those issues raised are things that have been discussed in-house including car and foreign trips. The President decides who goes for a foreign trip,” Toby said.
According to him, only one group is assigned at the Mansion, which is the Executive Mansion Press Corps and cannot stop the coverage of any reporter who intends to carry out their journalistic duties.
Meanwhile, Toby admonished members of the reporters’ group covering the President to always engage in dialogue and then run to the public.