The Managing Editor of the Inquirer Newspaper, C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy, is urging journalists in Liberia to put aside their ignitable attitudes that could inflame violence during the Presidential runoff.
She spoke passionately on the media and how journalists could exercise professionalism and ethically discharge their duties and responsibilities during the process, as a show of their own patriotism for a violent-free country.
“The news contents, statements and analysis of some media institutions and colleagues are not media friendly during this electioneering period, because some of these contents are marred by opinions that are lopsided in the interest of some media owners who are politicians,” the Managing Editor expressed.
The outgoing Vice president of the Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL) told journalists to desist from reporting sensational news stories, which could tear down the democratic gains the country has made over the years, and use their profession and expertise to aid in unifying the state that is politically divided.
Madam Saywah-Jimmy observed that the Liberian media is already battling with some who do not have the minimum credentials to work as journalists, yet, they have been hired by media owners who are politicians to promulgate their political agendas, to the discredit of the media space, noting, “they are using the media space to cause havoc, not only for the media as a professional institution, but also for all journalists and the entire country.”
“And this a huge challenge. These people do not conform to the norms and ethics of professional journalism, and they are a direct threat to the profession and we must resist them in every form and manner; but because elections in itself, whether in small or big spaces, leaves its own long term scars and scares, we appeal that for this sole purpose, let’s strive to keep our space undefiled,” she emphasized.
She pointed out that, “Since the inception of election activities in the country, even people who muddle media spaces, questioning the credibility of Liberian journalists, are owners of some of these media institutions, while others are pro-government actors spilling unethical contents in the name of information sharing, which is most times unprofessionally consumed by the public.”
“For some of us who want to see a vibrant media, these politically intoned media institutions are a total distraction, disgrace, and embarrassment to the profession, and therefore, journalists should be watchful of users, especially during these times,” Madam Saywah Jimmy pointed out.
She said the journalists, who are seen as the voice, ears, and eyes of the people, have lost their essence, and are controlled by few persons for their personal benefits, noting that these persons have a huge influence on the news contents of most these media institutions in Liberia.
Madam Jimmy warned that if this is not addressed by media regulatory bodies like the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), the Liberia Media Regulatory Commission, and international partners, the Liberian media could lose its relevance and the intent of true journalism.
“This is our profession, and we must not allow people from other areas to damage it. This is why we must do our best to protect it with all our energy,” she noted.
The Inquirer Boss however thanked journalists around the country for the success and professional manner in which they covered the October 10 polls, and encouraged them to exhibit the same professionalism to cover and report on the ensuing November 14 run-off.
“I know some of us are challenged with logistics and transportation, but this is what we have signed up for. The doctors will do their best to save a dying patient. It is the same way that we must do our best to save the country’s image and democracy. This is why we are journalists, securities, educators, and counsellors. A lot of people depend on us for credible, balanced, and accurate information, and it is in our best interest to meet their expectations,” the media manager said.
She encouraged her fellow media managers to refrain from hiring unqualified individuals to occupy the media space, but rather, look for persons who will uphold the integrity of the media profession.
She made these assertions on Tuesday, November 7, 2023, when she spoke extemporaneously with some female journalists at her Gurley and Benson Streets office in Monrovia.
The female media manager also cautioned journalists to remain agile at all times, as they cover and report on different events in the country.
“The few dollars will soon finish. It is your reputation that will be dented. Those who paid you to broadcast or publish defamatory or libelous stories will no longer have interest in you once their aims are accomplished. You will be alone to face the embarrassment and disgrace for the damage you have caused. That is why we have to put our profession above all things, because our lives depend on it,” she concluded.