Candidates’ Endorsement Creates Thin Line Between Media Executives
Several months after UP Chairman, Cllr. Varney Sherman, told journalists in Buchanan the need for the media to endorse political candidates as part of Liberia’s emerging democratic feature, the debate seems unceasing with it circling within the media itself.
At a media editors and owners forum organized by the Liberia Media Center and partners (Journalists for Human Rights and the Department for International Development,) media executives debated whether or not the press in Liberia should begin to endorse candidates.The president of the Press Union of Liberia contends that the democracy in Liberia has yet not matured to engage in endorsing candidates. Also, that the media itself was not yet independent of every influence to begin endorsing candidates. Peter Quaqua says such democratic franchise by the media was only good for the Western world where countries in that part of the world have enjoyed mature politics and democracy for a long time.
The PUL prexy noted that if such practice is allowed in the media, politicians, irrespective of their histories, will begin to use money and promise of favor to media institutions for their endorsement. He noted that as a result of cash beginning to spin in newsrooms, there will be unprecedented number of endorsements.
Underscoring the important role the media plays in politics and democracy, and noting the gullibility of Liberia’s illiterate public and their reliance on the media to make decision, Mr. Quaqua warns that such endorsement will provoke chaos, and that posterity could judge the media for having endorsed the wrong persons to public service.
He urged fellow journalists to abstain from endorsing candidates until such time when the media and society shall have become mature.
But for the Publisher of the Daily Observer newspaper, the media endorsing of candidates is a franchise practiced in many parts of the world, including the United States of America and Europe. Veteran journalist, Kenneth Y. Best, says there was no need to wait for a time when the media “would have matured,” as advised by PUL President Peter Quaqua. Mr. Best said “he was not a fence sitter” for anyone and will therefore endorse candidates.
Giving support to Mr. Best’s position on the debate, former Labor Minister, Tiawan Gongloe, said the media endorsing of candidates is a furtherance of its independence and enjoyment of the freedom of expression and choice.
However, both Kenneth Y. Best and Gongloe urged journalists to endorse candidates with the ethic of professional journalism as the hallmark of the decision.
As though the PUL President seemed unwilling to transform the occasion into a forum of debate, he left the forum ahead of its elapse.
Some observers at the forum told this paper that the position taken by Daily Observer publisher, Kenneth Y. bet and former Labor Minister is understandable.
The forum was held at the Mamba Point Hotel, at which conclusion, the Liberia Media Center launched its report on the Lofa violence involving the death of Korpo Kamara. LMC calls the report “the Lofa Debacle.”