Ganta, Nimba County: Several Liberian Journalists and Media Stakeholders including the National Elections Commission (NEC) recently completed the revision and adoption of the media code of the conduct for the upcoming elections.
The General and presidential elections is scheduled for October 10, 2023.
The Code of Conduct is a tool that will guide journalists as they report in promoting and helping to facilitate an enabling environment for the free and fair Conduct of the October 10 Elections.
The code of conduct consists of fifteen key provisions which talks about: Journalist’s duty to the voters, parties and candidates, the Nation, the value, integrity, and safety of the journalists. Other are journalists should know and respect rules for election coverage, Gender reporting, reporting on people with disabilities, state media duty etc.
The code of conduct was crafted since May 2, 2017 and is always been review for additions, subtraction and adopted by managers and reporters from across the fifteen counties in Liberia.
At a just ended 3day media training in Ganta Nimba County, The document was reviewed, additions and subtractions were made, and it was perused by an eight member secretariat committee. All participants, including the Reporters Association of Liberia, Publisher Association of Liberia, Female Journalists Association of Liberia and the Association of Community Radios, (ALICO), agreed for a future date to sign the code.
However, during the 3day training, journalists were enlightened on preventing conflict through professional reporting, signs and dangers of misinformation, disinformation and hate speeches towards the October 10 General and Presidential Elections.
During the training, media managers, talk show hosts and reporters were trained on how to identify fake news, misinformation, disinformation and mal-information when reporting on elections related issues.
At the same time journalists were reminded that in every news reporting, there should be value attached to every story they write, it should serve the society, empower the public and should be driven by trust.
Journalists were taught on their roles and responsibilities when covering elections which will give the public clear insight about elections activities in the country.
Speaking at the ceremony, the president of the reporters association of Liberia, Willie Tokpah said that the training is in the best interest of reporters and a new way of making sure reporters form key part of every activities leading to October 10 elections.
Mr. Tokpah emphasized that reporters play a pivotal role in covering elections, managers do not go on the field to gather news, reporters are the one who are always looking and searching out for the news stories.
He encouraged partners that after the validation, the document should roll out so as to help reporters to be guided appropriate as they report on the elections.
In remarks, the president of the Association of community radio (ALICOR) Hector Mulbah thanked UNDP and the National Elections commission for the training which will help community radio reporters report accurately on the upcoming Elections.
Mr. Mulbah mentioned that community radio stations have been actively involve with all the transitional processes inclusive of elections ensuring that elections are always peaceful in the country, and with the knowledge gained will boost the work they do as journalists.
Meanwhile the president of the female journalists association Siatta Scott Johnson said journalists play a critical role in any democracy and providing training that will enhance their reportage can never be overly stated.
Madam Scott Johnson applauded the organizers for including women which she said was a laudable one and women involvement in elections coverage is important because women covers different issues during elections.
She encouraged female reporters to take lessons learned most especially the code of conduct from the training serious to improve in their duties and responsibilities as journalists.
At the same time speaking on behalf of UNDP, Cllr. Aagon Tingba expressed thanks to the National Elections Commission for partnering with UNDP in ensuring peace and transparent elections are conducted in Liberia and for Liberia.
Cllr. Tingba stressed that providing such training opportunity for journalists is part of the major mandate at the UNDP and is always important to fulfill that.
For his part the Deputy Director for Program at National Elections Commission said the electioneering process started since fifteen months ago but they are reaching a critical point where they need to put on their garments as to what is unfolding and even journalists who are reporter must have some ethical standing, values, morals that will guide them in their reportage.
Attorney Nathan Garbie re-emphasized that there is a need for journalists to understand what election is? What are the details and responsibilities? What are the processes for complaints? So that when they are reporting as a journalist he or she will report base on the facts and knowledge.
Managers, talk show hosts and reporters were also taught about the standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for both journalists and the security forces.