By Lincoln Barcon
The Civil Society and Media Leadership (CSML) program in its report released recently, has rated The INQUIRER newspaper as the only media entity of 14 institutions in the country which average performance rating has improved. According to the report on monitoring the monitor, The INQUIRER went from 2.3 in July-August to 2.5 in September with the Daily Observer scoring an average of 2.5 in the July/August monitoring report and maintained the same score for September.
The report indicated that the summary scoring for the INQUIRER for the month of September shows that the institution was rated as objectivity 2.7, accuracy 2.9, relevance 2.8, structure 2.8, grammar 3.0 picture/sound quality 2.0, picture/sound relevance 3.0, gender sensitivity 1.6 and gender diversity 1.6 making the total of 2.5.
“While monitoring these media entities and analyzing stories related to Ebola and accountability of fund and resources, we also graded the level of basic professionalism,” the report noted.
The report further indicated that the IREX-MCAT rates nine journalistic standards which include objectivity, accuracy, relevance, structure, grammar, quality and relevance of pictures or sound, gender sensitivity, and gender diversity. They are rated on a 5-point scale, with 5 being excellent and 1 being poor.
As shown in the report, none of the 14 media entities scored an overall average of 3.0 in meeting basic standards of journalism with the exception of The Inquirer and Daily Observer, all of the institutions coded performed below what they scored in the previous monitoring report.
In its second report released, the coders identified couple of exceptions in the average performance rating of media entities. Informer and Public Agenda newspapers as well as Fabric Radio and Radio Veritas reported fewer news stories.
There is no scientific indicator as to what their final averages would have been if they had produced more stories.
The report averred that the role of the media in promoting and supporting accountability cannot be understated; through the IREX CSML program, Liberian citizens are learning about their right to expect those who handle funds and resources on their behalf to be accountable for the assets they handle.
“Yet, issues of low Internet penetration and lowered educational levels after years of civil war pose challenges to citizens who want access to the information they need to assess their leaders’ accountability,” the report further stated.
“At this stage, the statistics cited supra that the media in Liberia is currently still too fixed on reporting political issues but shifting the media’s attention from political reporting to accountability is a major challenge,” the report added.
According to the second report released by CSML noted the increase in the number of stories on accountability for Ebola resources, their greater prominence in newspaper and radio reporting, and the range of issues covered are encouraging. “With continued support from IREX and USAID and continued commitment on the part of Liberia’s press corps, this can be the small beginning of a major awakening in media reporting in Liberia,” the report intimated.