By Mafanta Kromah
The Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Len. Eugene Nagbe has described the media as indispensable to the development of Liberia’s Democracy.
Minister Nagbe stated on Tuesday that this is why they Journalists are called the Fourth Estate, because the other estates cannot function without theirs participation and involvement.
He made the statement during a one-day Media Marketing event organized by Internews Liberia Media Development Program funded by the United States Agency International Development (USAID) at a local hotel in Monrovia.
He said the media landscape in Liberia is different from other countries in the world, because in Liberia the government is the main advertiser and that the private sector is not too much into that.
In other countries, he said the private sector is the main advertiser which he said help their media raised fund.
“Because the private sector is the main advertiser in the media, it presented a complicated situation, independent media too will have to survive through advertisement, many times, the government is accused of using the power of disbursement to influence media context,” said the Minister of Information.
He continued, “We are trying to harmonize how government puts out and legalizes its advertisement and others are saying we trying to control the independent media by directing advertisement to favor media entities.”
“This problem has still not been fully address, we have gone back to the situation where individual agencies of government used their own yardstick to advertise and which entity to advertise with. Because of that the government is composed and comprised of politicians and is this tendency that some independent entities who that particular government entity will favor,” the Liberian Information Minister said.
He said to address this, the CDC government has had several engagements with the umbrella organization of the media, the Press Union of Liberia, noted the it still remain a lingering issue.
“And I will think that we find a way to address this because it remains the big elephant in the room, if we don’t address how can we address the issue of the media being a strong business,” Minister Nagbe said.
The Minister maintained there was a time when his ministry wanted to annex all advertisements and channel them generally to the press. But he stressed that they were not accepted by the independent media, because they felt that will give will give too much power to the ministry and that the ministry will use that power to influence editorial context.
Commenting on the GeoPoll survey report that rates the listenership of electronic media institutions in Liberia, the Information Minister spoke about the quality and context of media products.
He said sometimes it is not about the number of audience you reached, but the quality of the products they put out to the public, which he said brings truth.
At the same time, the Deputy Chief of Party, Musitini Tawedzegwa said Liberia is among few countries in Africa that have made significant progress, as regards access to information.
Ninety percent of the population have access to information something he said many developing countries are far from, the Internews official said.
According to him, the problem is that many of the media institution in Liberia are currently suffering financially.
He said “the funds available for the media are very small, that is why the mission of the media is highly compromised.
He also spoke of the “the lack of information is responsible for the lack of development.”
An International Expert and CEO of Ahern Media and Training or AMT, Steve Ahern explained that in a healthy media system, everyone compete but also work together on the big issues that face the industry.