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Support Free Speech …US Embassy Urges Liberians

by News Manager

By: Frank P. Martin

MONRVIA: As the World Radio Day is commemorated internationally, Madam Catherine Rodriguez, Chargé d’ Affaires of the United States Embassy near Monrovia, has underscored the need for Liberians to recommit to supporting free speech and democracy through the power of radio.
“As we celebrate world radio day today, let’s recommit to supporting free speech and democracy,” Madam Catherine Rodriguez, Chargé d’ Affaires, told State radio, Tuesday, February 13, 2024.

Commemorated under the theme: “A Century of Informing, Entertaining and Educating”, a continuing democratic value of Radio serves as a grassroots catalyst for connectedness within underserved groups including immigrant, religious, minority and poverty-stricken populations; and as an instantaneous bellwether of public opinion expressed through the auspices of free speech in the public space.

In a global era marked by the dizzying speed of technological innovation and the rapid obsolescence of one shiny new platform after another, the US Embassy Chargé d’ Affaires said radio played a priceless role; even during the heat of Liberia’s 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections.

She acknowledged that radio served as one of the most dependable and widely utilized forms of media in both urban and rural areas of the country, especially in election period when almost everyone was glued to their radio for updates stemming from the elections results or elsewhere.

“Most Liberians relied on their radio for updates emanating from last year Presidential and Legislative elections than any form of communication,” Madam Rodriguez reflected.

She said radio serves as a beacon of communication, reaching the hardiest corner of the country, emphasizing, “Even the remote community that don’t have access to the most important news and various perspectives listen to radio.”

Understanding the importance of radio in shaping democratic society, the US Embassy Chargé d’ Affaires disclosed that the US Embassy mentorship program, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with partnership Internews, has provided training and exchanged programs for hundreds of Journalists as a way of contributing to Liberia’s media development.

“We have provided training for Journalists and conducted media community forum. Moreover, the media program is meant to equip Journalists on the radio with knowledge and skills in ethical Journalism, fact checking and unbiased reporting,” she narrated.

She contended that the world celebrates World Radio Day not because of the medium of communication, but it is the cornerstone of democracy and free speech with a profound history of democracy that plays a pivotal role in Liberia, by informing Liberians and providing the platform for different voices.

Therefore, she called on the media to continue to champion the voices radio brings to the foot-front, the stories that inspire change, and the conversations that foster democracy.
Proclaimed in 2011 by the Member States of UNESCO and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 as a UN International Day, February 13 became World Radio Day (WRD).
Radio, as a technology, science, means of communications and system of programming audio elements has roots all the way back to the 1800s.

As a cost-effective medium of communication, radio has played a vital role in reaching out to remote communities and vulnerable populations for ages.

From World War I to the present day, it has connected people from different remote regions, including rural and tribal areas where connectivity has been a big challenge. It has helped create awareness, educate, and connect the masses through a single device.

In Liberia, the day was commemorated in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, hosting several Liberians Journalist.

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