By Omari Jackson
Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Lenn Eugene Nagbe says that investment in the media is building a vibrant democracy.
Speaking at a Media Market Day yesterday at a resort in Monrovia, Minister Nagbe noted that with the Liberian government being the biggest advertiser, advertising from the government and its agencies should be equally distributed to the media.
Unfortunately, he said, that is not the case and, therefore, it needs to be addressed.
He also said that the lifeblood of the media is advertisement. “I have met with the Press Union of Liberia to find the solution to this matter but it has not been successful,” he said.
Minister Nagbe said there is a tendency in which a government agency or ministry will decide to restrict advertisement to a selected number of the media simply because some other media are seen as unfavorable to the government.
“The situation is still lingering and we are back to free for all,” he said.
Minister Nagbe further noted that the media is important because no nation can survive without the role of the media.
“A vibrant media is an indispensable tool for the government and the growth of its nascent democracy,” he said.
He commended Internews and USAID (United States Agency for International Development) for sponsoring the one-day program. He called on the media to work with the government, to ensure that they work together to develop Liberia’s democracy.
Commerce & Industry Minister Wilson Tarpeh, who also spoke at the occasion, said the government is running a serious business and, therefore, the media should also be run as a serious business.
“We need the media,” Minister Tarpeh said, “because of the capacity to create jobs for our people, among other important issues.”
Minister Tarpeh, who also happens to be the proprietor of The News newspaper, said prior to the arrival of the present government, there were “golden handshake” arrangements, in which the government would negotiate highly discounted payouts to settle its debts to media entities.
“That period is over,” Minister Tarpeh said. “Our government does not subscribe to that.”
He noted that the Weah Administration is a new government and, therefore, the media should understand and should not “rush us to do what we need to take time to do for the people.”
“We expect the press to understand that even in a new marriage there is time for a honeymoon before the husband and wife can begin to think and work for their future and that’s what the government is going through now,” he said.
Returning on the government being the largest consumer, Minister Tarpeh said since the media is a business, they must check their product, because buyers out there are looking for a quality product with a reasonable cost.
“If any media covers a story and, without due diligence, rushes to publish a story without credibility, the media becomes responsible for putting out a bad product and you expect anyone to buy it,” he said.
He meanwhile called on the media to be responsible for the provision of the kind of product they are selling to the Liberian people.
He also said the media should get all their proper documents right and if they are facing difficulties, they can arrange to meet him so that he can look into their problems and give them some assistance.
He commended Internews and USAID for their continued intervention to upgrade the standard of the media in the country.
(Banner image: Eric Opa Doue of Echo Radio in Liberia. Credit: Internews)