The Director of the Catholic Media Center, Rev. Fr Ambrose Dayouga Kroma, challenged Liberian media to support the country’s fledgling democracy by avoiding divisive and inflammatory content.
Father Kroma (pictured) said rejecting inflammatory content is essential to peace building in post-conflict Liberia. The cleric indicated that journalists' failure to take adequate care with information too often ends badly for society.
Kroma spoke with The Media Project at the start of a workshop on ethics in journalism, attended by a cross-section of print and electronic media institutions in Liberia. It was the second in a series of trainings that are part of the rebranding of Radio Veritas.
“I strongly believe, given the vital role and importance of credible information to peace building in post-conflict Liberia, reporters and editors must pause and take a moment to judge the potential impact of offensive, divisive and inflammatory content. Failure...to give due consideration to this delicate act of managing and balancing information in journalism does result in tragic consequences,” Fr. Koma noted.
The Catholic prelate stressed that the high standards required by journalism ethics have not been met during this relatively new period of political openneness in Liberia.
Reverend Kroma also spoke against journalists and media institutions who allow themselves to be used as politicians' mouthpieces and de facto spokespeople.
“It is regrettable to note that some of our journalists and media institutions have become foot soldiers for propaganda and the promotion of selfish interest and agenda contrary to the national agenda,” the cleric warned.
The Catholic Media Center Director intimated that “whenever media institutions are manipulated by self-interest and personal aggrandizement, good journalists will inadvertently do damage when they report controversial and sensational stories out of context.”
The rebranding of Radio Veritas is being done in the context of strengthening ethical journalistic principles in the newsroom and understanding the impact of powerful words and images journalists create. These images can encourage hatred, violence, discrimination as well as social and economic injustice and conflict, according to the Catholic priest.
“It is hoped that, through this workshop, a clearer understanding of the station's Mission Statement and Editorial Policy as laid down by the Catholic Church will be understood, appreciated and more importantly serve as a guiding principle in our effort to inform, educate and promote the social, economic, moral and spiritual well-being of our society,” said the Center director.
Established in 1982 under the call sign ELCM Radio, the Catholic Broadcaster has grown to become a leading “voice of truth” in Liberia. The station has a history of atrtracting grants and donations from non-governmental institutions and philanthropists.