Liberia’s National Journalist Union Ends Suspension of Country’s Information Minister’s Membership

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Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe

Monrovia – The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has lifted the suspension of the membership of Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe from the organization following his official apology.

At a mass meeting held on Friday, January 4, 2019, the PUL membership accepted the Minister’s apology with a request that he use the same medium, in which he made the unfortunate comment, to broadcast the apology and same be placed on the PUL website.

Minister Nagbe in his letter of apology intimated, “Just as I did following my comments about the Union during a recent talk show which sparked an uproar, and subsequently during our meeting today, December 31, 2018, I withdraw said comments and re-emphasize my strong belief that the Union has a pivotal role to play in Liberia.”

According to the PUL, Minister Nagbe reaffirmed the importance of the government and the Press Union working continuously toward holding professionals thoroughly accountable to the ethical & professional journalism as enshrined in the Code of Conduct for Journalists practicing in Liberia.

Nagbe’s suspension was prompted recently after he branded the Union a “useless” entity during a Christmas Day appearance on Farbric FM 101.1 talkshow in Monrovia.

The Union said the Minister, who has been a member of the Union since the 1980s, made his comments after they (PUL) had alerted increasing hostilities against the media in Liberia from some officials of the Weah Administration.

Press Union of Liberia president, Charles B. Coffey, Jr. said, “After Friday’s mass meeting through, we are now empowered to end the suspension of the membership of Hon. Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Information Minister of the Republic of Liberia as mandated by the membership of the PUL. It is with regrets that we had to call into action one of the toughest reprimands within the powers of the Press Union of Liberia. Our decisions have never been political but a professional call to attention intended to enforce and uphold the high standards, journalists and members of PUL subscribed to when they signed up for membership. We hope that Minister Nagbe going forward will be an effective and resourceful ambassador of the Journalism Community in seeking actively to work for the enabling of the operating environment of media in Liberia.”

Meanwhile, the membership of the Press Union of Liberia has mandated the Leadership of the Union to organize an extraordinary congress to review the constitution of the PUL specifically on the standards/requirements for being a member.

The Press Union of Liberia Constitution Article 4: Membership Category

Section 1: Membership shall be opened to all persons in the following categories: Full Membership:

  1. Full membership of the PUL shall be granted to Liberian journalists who hold degree(s) in journalism or mass communication from a recognized institution and have practiced for two years.
  2. (ii) Full membership shall also be granted journalist with degree (s) in any other discipline who have practiced for a minimum of three years.
  3. Full Membership shall also be granted to journalists who have practiced for five years with recognized and accredited media institutions, employed by or freelancing with either electronic or print media institutions.
  4. Public Relations Officers/Managers who were full members of the Union as of the coming into force of this constitution shall continue to remain full members of the Union. They shall vote, but shall not be voted.
  5. Journalists working with media development NGOs who meet full membership criteria as set forth in subsection (i), (ii) and (ii) supra shall be granted full membership of the Union.

(b)    Associate Membership: Associate Members of the PUL shall be granted journalists who fall short of the criteria set for full membership as set forth in Article 4 Section 1. Foreign media personnel also qualify for Associate Membership.

(c)    Affiliate Membership: This category of membership of the PUL shall be granted to individuals who are in the employ of mass media institutions but are not media personnel.

(d)    Institutional Membership: Institutional Membership shall be granted to electronic and print media institutions and media-committee to be named by the Union leadership, within three (3) weeks of the vacancy and election shall be by secret ballot.

Moreover, the membership of the PUL ordered the leadership to continue its engagement with media houses across the country to ascertain the scale of poor condition of service of journalists and increasing delay in payment of wages. Findings from the engagements will be reported to the extraordinary congress of the PUL as mandated by the membership of the Press Union of Liberia.

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