Strive Press Club Wins National Press Club Exhibition

Monrovia-June 28, 2024: The Monrovia City Hall in Sinkor was the center of attraction over the weekend when high school press clubs gathered to participate in the country’s premier news presentation challenge, the National Press Club Exhibition.

The National Press Club Exhibition established by a pro-media development group, Youth Media Action in 2028 is a platform created to showcase the talents of young journalists through a news presentation competition.

This year’s event, celebrated under the theme, “Enhancing Youth Active Participation for Professional Journalism,” brought together nearly two hundred (200) people including stakeholders, students, parents, journalists, and school administrators amongst others for the event.

Serving as the keynote speaker of the 6th National Press Club Exhibition, the Project Officer of the Antenna Office Coordinator UNESCO Liberia, Mr. Joel Mutea revealed that about 1/3 of the world’s population is under the age of 14 while half is under the age of 25 years.

Mr. Mutea added that the data clearly underscored the need to have the voices of young people integrated into decision-making, empowered to be at the forefront of conversation in decision-making and enhance their capacity to engage in dialogue that shifts their future.
According to him, there is no better way to amplify the voices of youth than through journalism.

“That’s why I want to thank Youth Media Action for engaging young people at this time of their lives to become professional journalists and calling on the government to include journalism in the national curriculum,” he added.

He noted that the press club exhibition is an initiative that is in a way shaping the journey of youths to becoming distinguished journalists and contribute to the inquisition of skill sets and qualities that will make them great journalists.
“I believe you have what it takes to become the best of you and fly the realm of journalism,” he concluded.

Also speaking at the event, the Executive Director of Youth Media Action, Varmah Kamara expressed excitement over the level of progress the program has made over the year.

Mr. Kamara identified the decentralization of the programs in Liberia’s fifteen counties as one of the giant steps the organization has taken to enhance youth journalism in Liberia.

He added that after two successful regional press club exhibitions where schools from the South East and Central Liberia regions participated and were represented in the national competition is a manifestation that the program is succeeding in its quest for media reforms across the country.

The YMA Executive Director asserted that despite the challenges, high school press clubs are now becoming creative and improving in their respective presentations making it difficult for the judges to decide an ultimate winner unlike the past.

Mr. Kamara called on the Ministry of Education to invest in the program by including it in the country’s national curriculum where students can be allowed to practice journalism as a course across Liberia.

“We challenge the Liberian government through the Ministry of Education in formulating policies that will include Journalism as a course in our national curriculum. We believe that this will not only enhance our students reading and writing skills, it will automatically get them ready for the job market immediately upon their high school graduation,” he emphasized.

Mr. Kamara hailed USAID Liberia and Internews Liberia for the continuous support through the Liberia Media Activity, which he believes, has created the platform for addressing the high rate of attrition and capacity gap in the Liberian media.
“Majority of community radio stations rely on press club members for their recruitment and staffing which makes this initiative very paramount, in strengthening the Liberian media for quality service and credible information dissemination,” he concluded.

Also speaking on behalf of the schools, the principal of Kings and Queens’ International School, Joylyn Samuels welcomed the initiative; asserting that it promotes a reading and writing culture among young people.

Madam Samuels thanked the participants for taking advantage of the competition while she hailed Youth Media Action for providing a unique opportunity to strengthen the academic sector and the Liberian media.

For her part, a representative of Internews Liberia, Madam Zeowheh Saywrayne -Sumo expressed confidence in YMA’s youth journalism program while she reaffirmed her organization’s commitment to the initiative.

Madam Saywrayne-Sumo added that the impact the program is making especially in rural areas cannot be over-emphasized.

“I was in Rivergee the other day and was listening to some of YMA press club members on the radio, the way the children were pronouncing and asking questions were unmatched and I was like wow….” she asserted.

This Year’s National Press Club Exhibition featured ten (10) schools in the Senior High Category and five (5) in the elementary.

The first-place winner for the senior high bagged home sixty thousand Liberian dollars (LRD $60,000) while the champion for the elementary division got thirty thousand Liberian dollars (LRD $30,000) as a cash prize and the two winners from the South Eastern and Central Liberia regions walked away with ten thousand Liberian dollars (10,000 LRD) each.

The Senior category includes Champion, Strive Press Club which obtained 90.2 points followed by South Eastern regional champion, Zwedru Multilateral High School from Grand Gedeh County finished as runner up with 87 points, and former champion Kings and Queens International finished in 3rd place with 85 points.

Soltiamon Christian School finished 4th place followed by Central Liberia regional champion and Bong County-based, Williams V.S Tubman Gray High School at 5th place.

Others include College of West Africa (77.6pts), African Dream Academy (77pts), Best Brains Academy (76.4pts), Immanuel Christian School (73pts), and World of Life International School (72.6 points).

While in the elementary Category, Kings and Queen International retained her championship topping with 84points while Soltiamon Christian School finished as runner-up with 76.6 points, Strive Press Club got 3rd place with 73points, Kingdom Inheritors School and Tyneceploh finished 4th and 5th places respectively.

Youth Media Action (YMA) is a youth-led media development initiative that provides training and broadcasting experience to high school students and youths throughout Liberia’s 15 counties.

With a team of young staff led by Liberian journalist Varmah Kamara, YMA coordinates a weekly student-led radio show broadcast nationwide on ELBC, the national state radio station.

YMA also runs twice-yearly journalism vacation programs for child broadcasters and recent graduates and an elective journalism program for high schools. Over 3,000 students have passed through YMA’s programs since its launch in 2016.

YMA with support from Internews on the USAID Media activity currently runs a five-year media development program in high schools as most of Liberia’s journalists started their careers at high school press clubs.

Under the context of a challenging and under-resourced media landscape, YMA seeks to act as a force to professionalize Liberia’s media sector by providing young people with a firm practical grounding in journalism through training opportunities and media exposure.

One of YMA’s core aims is to inspire media reforms to enable professional journalism to support a vibrant democracy. YMA places a special focus on mentoring aspiring young female journalists who are currently underrepresented in the Liberian media.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *