Learning from Liberian election coverage
On June 13, The Media Project will convene 25 Liberian journalists to discuss lessons of impartiality, bribery and honesty learned during that country's 2011 Presidential Elections.
The selected journalists represent 25 different newsrooms, each with separate editorial guidelines.
Invited participants were all active reporters during the electoral period in Liberia, and covered every aspect of the elections. They operated amid frequent offers of karto (bribery) from politicians who desperately chased power at all costs.
Some of these reporters suffered through violence during the election period. But each participant was selected based upon their performances under these adverse conditions.
The Media Project is sponsoring the event hosted by Liberia Christian Journalist Network (LICJONET), headed by its chairman George Stewart, in collaboration with the Press Union of Liberia and the Liberia Media Center.
Specific topics to be discussed include:
1. “Editorial Independence in Liberian Elections-Evaluating the Recent Elections” with Zenu Miller, the former editor of one of the hottest news organizations during the elections. His then employer/ organization had heavy political influence from the ruling party.
2. “The Challenge of Karto (Bribery) in Liberian media: What can be done?" Ms. Wade
Williams, Editor of Front Page Africa, a local independent daily that suffered in the hand of opposition political party, Congress of Democratic change.
3. “Partisan Journalism in a Democratic Society” by Mr. Ramon Zabay, a renowned media trainer and broadcast journalist who now works for United Nations Radio in Liberia.
The CEO of The Media Project, Rev. Dr. Arne H. Fjeldstad, an experienced newspaper editor and now an international media trainer, will also participate during the day event lecturing on the topic “Can Good Journalists be Influenced by the Bible?”
The Liberia Christian Journalist Network (LICJONET), through sponsorship from The Media Project, aims to provide a permanent in-country forum where mainstream reporters can assess their past performance and improve their practice, George Stewart said.
"LICJONET recognizes the critical need to build the capacity of Liberian media practitioners; therefore, it works to bring interactive forums like the lessons-learned conference to Monrovia," Stewart noted.
Networking among journalists both locally and internationally is one of the objectives of LICJONET. As a local networking body, LICJONET hopes to help produce a more tight-knit media sector that learns from its past, particularly in elections reporting.
[Photo from the TMP Liberia conference in 2010.]