By Morrison O.G. Sayon
As the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) celebrates its 51st years of existence, veteran Liberian Journalist, Philip N. Wesseh (PNW) has called on the Union to account for the US$100,000 that was given to the George Bapain Administration by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Serving as one of the panelists at ceremony marking the 51st anniversary of the PUL held on the main campus of the University of Liberia, Mr. Wesseh called on the Abdullah Kamara’s administration to do something about the US$100,000 to save the Union and journalists from further disgrace.
The INQUIRER boss said if there is no account of the money it will definitely cast a dark cloud on not only the Press Union of Liberia but also on individual journalists in the country that will be continuously ridiculed.
The award-winning journalist added that the media in Liberia cannot be speaking of transparency and accountability and at the same time, criticizing government officials and those in the private sector of corruption and cannot account for just US$100,000. He said this is a disgrace to the media in Liberia and as such, something must be done to remedy the situation.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Covering Dangerous Assignments’, Wesseh said journalists covering dangerous situations must exhibit a high degree of neutrality and avoid supporting any of the parties involved in conflicts. He added, “Don’t wear anything belonging to any of the parties involved. He said there are only two focal individuals in gathering news. The two focal persons according to Mr. Wesseh are the reporter and the photographer.
The Liberian journalist added that the two focal persons especially the photographer must do everything possible to hide his identity when photographing a person or situation to avoid risk or hindering his/her reportorial duty.
At the same time, Mr. Wesseh has expressed disappointment over the low turnout of journalists at the 51th anniversary of the PUL. He said this indicates that journalists have not shown any interest in the Union’s activities.
Philip Wesseh, alias PNW-GINA among other things, said the union has been turned into an election club. He said journalists only turn out if elections are around something he said is counterproductive to the smooth operation of the Press Union of Liberia.
Meanwhile, the head of Power FM/TV, Mr. Aaron Kollie has challenged the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) to establish an institution of journalism intended to train Liberian journalists to become more professional.
Mr. Kollie also wants PUL and media institutions in the country to check the background of those coming in the profession before employing them as full-fledged journalists. He said there are individuals coming into the profession who do not have the passion to serve but are only interested in what to get on the field.
Mr. Kollie said those wanting to become journalists must have the passion for the profession and be committed to duty before gaining employment with an institution. He said in the past there was a leadership in the newsroom that drew journalists to work, something that is lacking in the media today.
Kollie called on journalists to take advantage of every training opportunity to advance themselves and become more professional. He wants the PUL to organize more vigorous training programs for journalists and at the same time encourage females to be part of the profession. Among other things, he called on female journalists to challenge their male colleagues in the media.
Yesterday, journalists in Liberia paraded through the principal streets of Monrovia in commemoration of the 51th Anniversary of the Union. The formal anniversary program was held at the University of Liberia’s main campus which brought together panelists who shared their experiences on the Evolution of Journalism and the Press Union of Liberia.
Despite the high anticipation, the turnout of journalists at the program was disappointing as very few journalists graced the occasion something many media practitioners blamed on the leadership of the PUL for not creating the necessary awareness for the participation of journalists and partners.