The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) is cautioning the Liberian press to strive in sustaining peace and democracy in the country by excising due diligence in reporting, especially when dealing with matters that have national security implications.
ALJA said the Liberian government and the press are not adversaries; and they must work in unison for a stable and better Liberia. The association said it will remain vigilant in working with the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) in condemning and opposing actions that are inimical to the gathering and dissemination of public information by journalists and media institutions.
ALJA is also encouraging Liberian journalists to remain fearless and professional in the execution of their reportorial duties. “Ensure that your stories are accurate and balanced through facts checking and the verification of sources,” the Association advised.
ALJA’s statement comes in the wake of a press release to Bamba1News on February 24, 2016, in which it said its attention has been drawn to a recent pronouncement by Liberia’s Attorney General, Counselor Benedict Sannoh that the Liberian government is to begin the prosecution of local journalists and media institutions that engaged in what he calls the “deliberate and blatant reporting of falsehood.”
ALJA says it is deeply troubled by the Attorney General’s warning. It underscored that while it does not support ethical transgressions such as blackmailing, fabrications, rumor mongering and deliberate distortion of facts in the Liberian media, it is however, concerned by the unintended consequences the Justice Minister’s statement could have on free speech and press freedom in the country if, the reported plan is not reconsidered.
ALJA disclosed said it does not matter how well intentioned the pronouncement may seem for ensuring responsible and professional journalism in Liberia, the statement has the probability of being misconstrued and literally taken by overzealous security personnels and some public officials as a license for clamping down on the media and perceived enemies of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf regime.