Monrovia, Liberia (June 18, 2017)–“UNESCO places high importance in empowering journalists to increase awareness on freedom of expression and the free flow of information” was the declaration made here recently by the Regional Director of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) Mr. Yao Ydo in Abuja, when he officially open an intensive election reporting training workshop for 35 young Liberian Journalists.
The June13-14, 2017 training brought together Journalists from both the print and electronic media from six counties: Bong, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi, Lofa and Montserrado, with an impressive level of gender balance. “Empowering Young Journalists to Monitor Good Governance, Democratic Participation and Peaceful Transition in Liberia” was the theme of the workshop.
Speaking at the YMCA auditorium, the UNESCO Regional Director stressed the need to enhance democratic participation by youth and the public at large by enhancing in them the core values of respect, tolerance and peace towards free, fair and peaceful elections
Mr. Ydo called for an end to threats and intimidation against the media, saying that such situation ultimately leads to the death of Journalists.
He commended the Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding for organizing the workshop with UNESCO’s funding, assuring that his organization was committed to building the capacity of Liberian Journalists to ensure they are conflict sensitive and unbias in their reportage, ahead of the October 10 presidential and representative elections.
Liberia’s Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Lenn Eugene Nagbe, who made an opening speech commended UNESCO for supporting the training workshop, as the media play a crucial role in the democratic process.
Minister Nagbe urged the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) to push for Liberia’s political parties and politicians to sign a joint manifesto committing themselves not to intimidating and harassing Journalists ahead of the October presidential and representative elections
He said some politicians hail the media when stories published favored them, the Liberian Information Minister regretted that those same politicians later vilify the very media when they report stories not in their interest, something he added must stop.
Also gracing the opening ceremony was PUL President Charles Coffey who said such a training was timely and in line with his union’s policy to ensure a professionally trained media in the run up to Liberia’s history polls.
The two-day training workshop was very interactive with a mixture of lectures on a range of issues to small group works and other practical exercises. Among areas covered were good governance and political participation; key election laws and regulations, code of conduct for election coverage; issues-focused elections and tips on balance coverage of political parties/politicians; promoting women’s political participation and conflict-sensitive reporting.