In his anniversary statement recentlyat the climax of the 55th Press Union of Liberia anniversary celebration held in Gbarnga, Bong County, Coffey pointed out that the media has a social responsibility to foster peace in the country, noting that there are individuals who are claiming to be journalists, using the media to accomplish their selfish desires.
According to the PUL executive, there are those professing to be journalists who are creating serious harm for the profession by using their institutions to propagate hate messages against the state and its people.
At the same time, he said much needs to be done to upgrade the status of Liberian journalists, noting that lots of journalists are underpaid by media owners and as a result they are easily bought or carried away anytime and by anyone for little amounts.
Coffey believes that if journalists uphold the ethics of the profession, despite the challenges, it will help to safeguard the profession and enable practitioners to adequately disseminate the right information to the public.
He attributed the formation of the PUL in 1964 to challenges journalists faced, some of whom suffered imprisonment because of branding politicians as “radical” people.
Serving as keynote speaker at the occasion, the Deputy Speaker of the 54th National Legislature, Prince K. Moye, called on the media to overcome “personal bloggers” whom, he said, have crowded the Liberian media under the pretext of being watchdogs.
Deputy Speaker Moye, at the same time, wants media practitioners to be innovative through training and support the emerging democratic culture, adding, “Journalists need to play a pivotal role in fighting against human trafficking in the country.”
He noted that Monday’s celebration reminds the public that parents are challenged with the constraint of paying their children’s school fees, something which the Deputy Speaker termed as “troubling”, adding that a free press must now begin to push into action.
Also speaking at the climax of the PUL anniversary celebration was the president of the Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL), Madam Siata Johnson, who called for the work of the media to be directed towards building a vibrant society through ethical reportage.
She, however, noted that it becomes difficult and challenging for professionals to live on “empty stomach” (low pay) even though the Liberian landscape continues to grow, adding, “The celebration of PUL’s 55th anniversary must come with more prospects.”
The 55th celebration was marked by several activities, including debates on the new FM Radio frequency regulation of regulator Liberia Telecommunication Authority, presentation on the role of the media in mitigating human trafficking and sports.
The 55th anniversary was held under the theme: “Strengthening Reporting on Trafficking in Persons and Improving Media Regulations” with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).