U.S. Ambassador Acknowledges Freedom…Says Journalists Should Be Critical, But Responsible
By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
Amidst interesting newspaper articles, radio and television airtimes which have been consumed largely by a debate as to whether there is press freedom in Liberia following the libel judgment against Journalist Rodney Sieh of FrontPage Africa, United States Ambassador accredited near Monrovia, Deborah R. Malac, has asserted that Liberia has one of the freest environment for press freedom in the world. There have been diverse views from several international institutions and local civil society groups, with some calling the issue an attack on press freedom while others have called on the President to intervene in a judicial matter between private citizens.
Although the US Ambassador was not speaking to the issue of Journalist Sieh’s imprisonment but she reminded the Liberian media that incomplete or inaccurate reporting of developments in sensitive sectors can sometimes inadvertently inflame tensions and complicate reaching consensus.
She made the assertion on Monday, September 30, 2013, at the beginning of a 7-day seminar taking place in Monrovia to empower the media to play active watchdog role over the mining, oil, and gas revenue and resources in Liberia.
Ambassador Malac, a career member of President Obama’s administration nominated on May 9, 2013, told reporters that information is power and by choosing careers in journalism, media men have embraced the admirable responsibility of sharing information to help empower the Liberian people.
Madam Malac who previously served as the Director of Office of East African Affairs prior to this position, said journalists should be critical but responsible in what is said or written when carrying their reportorial duties.
The US Diplomat indicated that oil and gas issues are difficult to understand so journalists have an extremely important role to play in order to assist the Liberian people know what is happening in the oil and gas industry.
Considering her areas of assignment in Addis Ababa, Senegal, Thailand, South Africa, and Cameroon among others prior to her mission in Liberia, Madam Malac added that the growth and development of the society is significant to the information disseminated daily by the media.