Addressing hundreds of journalists in Fish Town, River Gee County recently as guest speaker at the Press Union of Liberia(PUL)) organized event to commemorate this year’s World Press Freedom Day, Mr. Koijee, who sounded the warning when he strongly underscored how transparency and accountability of the digital media is very important, pointed out this refers not just to excellent and independent reporting, but also self-examination.
“As much as the Government has a duty to ensure free press, the media too has a duty to responsible reporting. To utilizing the media landscape for any less then promoting high standards of journalism, would set the stage for unprofessional and bias coverage or reporting. And this could lead to maligning of innocent people’s character to national hate and tension. The Media must never allowed itself to be used,” Mr. Koijee, who spoke on the global theme: “Journalism Under Digital Siege”, uttered.
“Ladies and Gentles, I cite myself as an example of someone that the media as allowed itself to be used to be victimized by negative, false, and unhealthy stories. There are a plethora of false allegations against me, ranging from calling me former a child soldier, to being a death squad commander, to committing rape and other violent acts against innocent people,” the Press Freedom Day Orator asserted.
Globally, digital landscape has increased largely since the outbreak of COVID-19According to him, usually, it is the media that allows itself to be the instrument of the spewing of falsehood and lies.
“For me, this is now become my reality. But I am not deterred. This is the life I chose. You are all here and you know me. Many of you saw me grow from a student activist to national youth and student leader to becoming the Mayor of Monrovia. But I am usually shocked, that nobody, not one even one of the veteran and legendary journalists, would say just one word to younger journalists when these falsehoods are being fabricated and spread through media outlets,” he further asserted.
The Monrovia City Corporation(MCC)Boss, who earlier paid tributes to fallen Liberian Journalists for their immense contributions to the development of the media landscape and the society in general and also journalists who are also doing the same, averred that veteran Liberian journalists such as Kenneth Y. Best, Philip P. N. Wesseh, Weadeh Kobbah- Wureh, Massa Washington, Aaron Kollie, Frank Sainwola, Kwame Clement, Abraham Massalay, and Peter Quaqua, among others, whose roles and contributions to free press, media pluralism and democracy in Liberia remain a mark of distinction, greatness and an example that is worth emulating.
“Finally, as we celebrate the World Press Freedom Day, it is the responsibility of you as journalists to remain more ethical, independent and balanced in reporting stories to the public. The media as a double-edged can be a frightful weapon of violence when it disseminates messages of falsehood that cunningly sways public sentiments.
The Rwandan genocide is an example. It was a hate messages by the media that fused war between the two groups Hutus and Tutsis that degenerated into armed uprising in which the majority Hutus killed hundreds of thousands of the minority Tutsis,” the MCC Boss, who committed his youthful life to promoting democratic values as youth and student activist, reminded Liberian Journalists.
He further warned that the media can be instrument of conflict resolution and peace, stressing that this is the kind of media that enables a society to make well-informed choices, which is a forerunner of democratic governance and values.
“Overall, the media and the government should work together to promote the common values to promote the common values which are of interest for peace, democracy and development,” he, among other things, added.