Vice President Boakai frowns on media smear campaign

VP Boakai (left) shakes hands with ALJA President Sandy

Liberia’s Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai, Sr. is urging the Liberian media to be robust and objective in exposing societal ills in the country by reporting nothing but the truth.

Vice President Boakai said truth telling based on research and the verification of facts on the part of journalists in their coverage of happenings in the country is critical for an unbiased and accurate reporting about developments in Liberia.

According to a press release issued recently by the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) the vice president spoke on Tuesday, April 18 in the US capital, Washington, D.C., when he granted an audience to a four-man delegation of the association.

ALJA National President Moses D. Sandy led the delegation. Also on the delegation were  National Board of Directors member Volcano Shelton and the Delaware Valley Chapter President Jackson T.S. Seton and Vice President Pewee Baysah. 

The meeting was held at the prestigious Hamilton Crowne Plaza hotel.

At the meeting, Vice President Boakai and the ALJA delegation discussed the ALJA’s roles and mission, commitment to the sustenance of the prevailing peace and stability in Liberia, government/media relations and the current political situation in the country with particular focus on the 2017 general and presidential elections. The gathering was not meant for the endorsement of the vice president’s candidacy for the Liberian presidency.

Mr. Boakai told the ALJA executives that the current wave of ethical transgressions in the local press are not healthy for the projection of a positive image of Liberia at home and abroad.

He said journalism is a noble and respectable profession but the ongoing reporting of falsehood, blackmailing and the character assassination of public officials by some journalists and media institutions with impunity are literally hurting the credibility of the Liberian media. He observed “not all public officials are corrupt or dishonest.”

He maintained that sensational journalism influenced by the drive for economic gain by some media houses and journalists in Liberia is unpatriotic and such practice dampens the image of the country in the international community.

“It drives away investors, stalls national development, and influences foreign policies that are not favorable to our country and people,” the Liberian Vice President, who is also standard bearer of the ruling Unity Party (UP) noted.

He stressed that “we have done a lot of good things in Liberia but they are not reported in the press.”

He said in the wake of the stated problems, it is sad that the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), the umbrella organization of the local Liberian press is yet to take the needed corrective actions against journalists and media institutions that are blatantly violating media ethics and eroding the trustworthiness of the press. 

Commenting on the 2017 general and presidential election, the vice president said the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration is committed to ensuring a free, fair, and transparent election in Liberia come October 10, 2017 when Liberians will go to the poll to cast their ballots. “As vice president and standard bearer, I want to see a Liberia that works for all Liberians, including those in the Diaspora,” he noted.

Earlier, ALJA National President, Moses D. Sandy, in an introductory remark, thanked the vice president and the Liberian government for the good work they are doing in maintaining the peace and stability in Liberia.

Mr. Sandy said ALJA is a non-partisan organization which is interested in seeing a Liberia where the media, public officials, and all human beings regardless of race, religious, social, political, religious, and ideological differences would live in peace and harmony. 

He said the association is non-partisan and it has no allegiance to any political party, candidate and group.

He called on the Sirleaf administration to ensure that the pending 2017 elections are held peacefully. “Mr. Vice President, this election is a critical period in Liberia. It can either make or break the peace and quietude that Liberia now enjoys; so, everything must be done to make sure that the process is free of intimidation, violence, and fraud.”

Regarding the government and media relations, the ALJA boss said the association remains devoted to ensuring that press freedom in Liberia is protected and upheld. 

However, he noted that “ALJA will not support any media institution or journalist that opts to engage in ethical transgressions or any other form of media malpractices. If the government encroaches on press freedom, we will raise the alarm and ask for corrective actions. But if journalists or media houses choose to engage in acts that are inimical to the peace and stability of Liberia, we will not support them blindly.” 

He emphasized that ALJA as a critical voice for the voiceless in Liberia, will continue to speak out on policy issues that adversely affect the lives of Liberians at home and abroad. “When the government does well, we will hail and praise them. But if the government does wrong, we will condemn such action and call for corrective measures.”

ALJA is a US based non-profit media advocacy group. The organization brings together current and retired Liberian journalists residing in the Americas. It was founded in 1998 in Washington D.C.

ALJA seeks to foster camaraderie amongst its members and their American counterparts. Also, the association is dedicated to championing the cause of press freedom in Liberia through media advocacy, logistical support, and training.

In addition, ALJA is devoted to promoting and fostering the principle of good governance in Liberia through engagement with public officials and citizens of the country.