The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Dr. Joseph Mills Jones, said the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has a responsibility to help Liberians appreciate Liberia more.
“As the press, you have a responsibility to help Liberians appreciate Liberia more and nurture that spirit of hope and that spirit of belonging, without which our commitment to rapid economic and social transformation will remain a façade,” Governor Jones said when he delivered the Keynote speech at the induction ceremony of officers of the Press Union of Liberia last Friday evening.
The Central Bank Governor said, “The Press as an institution is critical to forging our national identity; the Press is critical to bringing sanity to our national dialogue, by keeping us focused on the things that matter and on the things that unite us, while exposing the emptiness of those who dwell on the things that divide us.”
Dr. Jones continued, “The challenge we offer to you, members of the press, is that inasmuch as you are obligated to expose the wrongs of the society–and you must not waiver from that— you also have a responsibility to be messengers of positive expectations.”
He added that history shows that many countries have had their difficult periods and they have been able to overcome their problems. “They did it because their citizens were able to find within themselves the will to commit to a cause larger than their individual selves and their country,” Dr. Jones said.
The CBL Boss noted that the Press can help Liberians find such a national will, saying, “I say to you Liberians too, can overcome its problems.”
Governor Jones noted that the history of the Press in Liberia is a history of fortitude and pride and noted that the press has worked hard in the country not for fame or fortune.
“You have persevered because of pride in your work. What else could have kept you going, if not a sense of value? We salute you! Remain steadfast; remain vigilant. Above all, remain true to your profession, which calls for the promulgation of facts, analytical thinking, balance reporting and sober reflection,” Dr. Jones stressed.
He further told members of the media that their goal is not so much to be loved, as much as to be respected noting, “The record shows that this is the ethics which you, as a Union, have been trying to live up to by taking steps to address problems arising from within regarding actions of some of your colleagues relative to the code of professional conduct that the PUL adopted to guide its membership.”
Governor Jones intimated, “By censuring yourselves, you give credence to your actions to serve as the mirror for the larger society. Indeed, what you are saying through your actions is that accountability is a virtue of general application. It is good for the public sector; good for the private sector and good for the Press.”
“We at the Central Bank of Liberia consider the Press Union of Liberia to be a partner in our efforts to revitalize our economy, the press being the major avenue for informing the public of specific policy measures being implemented by the CBL,” he said.
For his part, the newly Inducted President of the PUL, Mr. Kamara A. Kamara, said, “Ascending to the leadership of the Press Union of Liberia put upon one an obligation to serve as a symbol of credibility, integrity, speaking truth to power and respecting the views and rights of all irrespective of how fundamentally flaw people may perceive them.”
Mr. Kamara who pledged to serve his term by giving out his belief, said he believes that by doing the right thing, he would be challenging others to do the right things required of them.
Mr. Kamara told his audience that the challenges of those days when the Press Union was founded still exist as laws that criminalize discussing government are still threatening today and contempt charges still remain ridiculous.
He said interestingly contempt issues are still a hindrance to free speech and recorded several issues arising from free speech that resulted to contempt charges.
He said the authors of Liberia’s constitution mandated the Legislature to define contempt noting that “regrettably after 20 years the Legislature is yet to act responsibly.” He then called for the removal from the books of all anti-free speech legislation.