At the 4th congress of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) held at the auditorium of the University  of Liberia, the key note speaker Cllr. Fonati  Koffa Representative of district number 2 in Grand Kru county described the journalistic profession as a noble one but hustlers have infiltrated the Liberian journalistic arena thus giving the Profession a negative face!

By Joe Noutoua Wandah, Contributing Writer

He spoke on the topic “the poor state of the Liberians media” of which he indicated that the professional within the media landscape are lessor then those who parading the corridors of the profession mainly blackmailing people of reputations/integrity and public officials for financial gains!

The CODE OF ETHICS FOR LIBERIAN JOURNALISTS which ought to be the holy bible of the Union indicates in Section 6.2 that the journalists shall respect the rights of individuals to freedom of expression. This means that he/she shall avoid intimidating, harassing or using excessive insistence in order to obtain information. This continues to be the usual routine of more of the unprepared hustlers/ join the list that is today causing the Union serious embarrassments in most cases if not all!

Further dissecting  Representative Koffa remarked Article 2 section 2.1 which got to do with THE PUBLIC INTEREST it states that there is a public interest in freedom of expression. The protection of public interest includes, but not restricted to  1) Detecting or exposing crimes or impropriety; 2)Protecting public health and safety; 3) Preventing the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organization; 4)Guaranteeing access to information that facilitates the formation of opinions on political, economic, culture, social or issues. Cllr. Koffa was not wrong when he alluded to the above clauses which in most cases these hustlers used in getting at the public rather than allowing them the freedom of expression as enshrine in this CODE OF ETHICS FOR LIBERIAN JOURNALISTS!

Yes, I do agree with the fact that the Journalism profession in Liberia is poverty driven which makes most of her practitioners be it editors, talk show host, reporter and media owners who don’t have  integrity poise to exhort monies from would be interviewees on the contrary ! Yet in Article 1. Section 1.1 under the title “Freedom of expression and information” indicates that in line with article 15 of the Liberian constitution and other regional and international protocols, the journalist shall defend freedom of expression and information in accordance with ethics. The journalist shall acknowledge his/her function as facilitator and channel for access to information and the public interest.

Reading into the mind of Cllr. Koffa, from where I sit in the University of Liberia auditorium religiously listening to him submerse that he has on numerous occasions felt victim to these JOINT THE LIST unscrupulous self-style journalists that due to his reputation and the position occupied in society today forbid him to go all out on the offences but give in to people he considered friends in the media to do the talking for him! With this kind of organized crime said friend in the media will join this criminal gang in exhorting money from him with the fake belief that he or she is fighting to save face in order for his client name to not be drag into the mud!

The 4th congressional Press Union of Liberia (PUL) Speaker was clear in pointing up the journalists’ fault especially not applying the higher professional standard in verifying their news source from using one or two sources! Article 3. Section 3.1 under Fairness and Accuracy which indicates that Journalist shall ensure, by applying the highest professional standards therefore refrain from publishing unfounded, slanted or biased information as well as mere rumors or conjectures. The journalist has the professional obligation to verify the information and to use more than one source, as well as to present all the sides in a fair manner. 

By and large, the journalism profession in Liberia has fallen to its lowest ebb in the last thirteen years plus due to the unprofessional approaches by some good numbers of hustlers that over the years infiltrated into mean stream journalism that has today polluted this noble profession!

Thus, making the general populate to put all well-meaning professionals into one pipe in smoking them out meaning they are all press boy and girls who don’t have integrity! From where I sit and see the Liberian media landscape all that are require are robust approaches in hammering home forceful implementation of this  CODE OF ETHICS FOR LIBERIAN JOURNALISTS for all practitioners in both the print and electronic medias in bringing sanity to the Liberian medias.

Joe Noutoua Wandah is a Liberian broadcast Journalist, columnist and writer and is providing media consultancy and can be reach at +231776590725/+231886224134 and E-mail: [email protected]