MONROVIA: As Liberia Prepares for the 2023 presidential and legislative elections, two of the country’s female media Executives, including Helen Nah, Publisher of the Women Voices Newspaper; and Madam Eva Flomo, Station Manager of the ECOWAS Radio, have urged Liberian media to maintain its professional integrity, by reporting based on accuracy, balance, clarity, and fairness.
The two female media personalities made the call on Thursday, June 9, 2022, when both facilitated a daylong Mediation Dialogue with the Media on ‘Weaning Off Fake News/Misinformation before, During and After Elections.’
The Mediation Dialogue with the media was conducted under the Flagship Program of the Women’s Situation Room (WSR), initiated by the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC).
The Dialogues which was held on the Theme: “Sustainable and Inclusive Peace in Liberia through Promoting Women Leadership and Participation in Civic and Political Life and the Strengthened Role in Conflict Resolution” was conducted at the Cecil Dennis Auditorium, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.
The two facilitators emphasized that getting the facts right is the cardinal principle of journalism while fairness and impartiality are critical to every professional media practitioner.
According to them, “it’s the duty of the media to give objective reports about the elections, its processes, and the various candidates.”
Madam Flomo and Madam Nah also urged journalists to eschew reports which tend to promote feelings of enmity or hatred among people based on ethnicity, region and religion.
They also the media to rise above use of hate speech ahead of the crucial 2023 elections. They noted that hate speech often triggers electoral violence, undermines social cohesion and tolerance.
“The media should avoid, at all costs, hate speech and contents which can incite violence against citizens and the stigmatization of people, more so, during an electioneering period,” the female media tycoons emphasized.
They also advised the media fraternity to aspire for the highest level of ethical and professional standards in the countdown to the elections.
They both maintain that media practitioners are among an array of professionals who are essential because of the critical role that information dissemination plays in society.
Earlier, Madam Gifty Mensah, an Executive of the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) who gave the overview of the Program, said the event which is being held through the Women’s Situation Room (WSR) is a mechanism that has established itself in a pivotal oversight position to monitor the activities of all relevant actors in electoral processes.
The Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) executive noted that, one such key group of actors is the media, raging from print to digital to online and social media channels and platforms.
According to her, the enrichment of the media ecosystem with diversified news sources facilitates citizens’ and voters’ access to information and their decisions on crucial matters as regards the electoral processes.
The publication outlets, she noted, also provide a faster means for information consumption.
She added that censorship is therefore a key factor to the WSR in monitoring the publications of various articles and other news items.
“Relevant factors such as political parties, National Elections Commission (NEC), security agencies and civil society organizations rely on media coverage to anchor information dissemination for all of their activities throughout elections,” she said.
She noted that, this posits the paramouncy of media coverage of electoral activities, and the quality of journalistic skills, reporting responsibilities and techniques to cover elections, determines the kind of political climate in electoral processes.
Madam Mensah indicated that, in the experience and expertise of the WSR, elections represent a competition for popular support and power among political parties so the need to safeguard information sharing concerning every aspect of said democratic process.
She stressed that, while the roles of the media in elections are unquestionable on one hand, the media has also been used for the creation of critical defects in information dissemination on the other hand, sometimes being the perpetrator of chaos.
She further asserted that in certain cases, untrue information has been strategically disseminated with the intent to disrupt electoral campaign.
They pointed out that newspapers, TV and radio stations, online channels, and social media should subscribe to gender-sensitive reporting and in the production of media content.
The Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC), is an outcome of the International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security held in 2009 in Monrovia, Liberia.
The event was co-convened by President Tarja Halone of Finland and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. The Centre promotes Women’s Empowerment; Leadership Development and International Peace and Security throughout Africa.
Consistent with its mandate to support the decisions of the Colloquium in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 among others, the Centre actively engages in women’s involvement in peace and security in Liberia and across the African region.