PAL Concludes High Level Media Editors’ Forum

Copy of the Newsroom Handbook being presented to PAL President Garblah

The Publishers Association of Liberia (PAL) has concluded a one-day high level media editors’ forum at the Corina Hotel, Sinkor. The forum was held under the theme, “Strengthening Media Editorial Leadership During Elections”, and brought together approximately seventeen editors from major print media institutions in Monrovia as well as owners and publishers of a number of media institutions.

    The forum was moderated by the President of PAL, Othello Garblah, while PAL’s Secretary General, James Kaizolu, served as rapporteur. The editors were drilled through four topics: the role of the media in civic and voter education; election coverage, avoiding conflict; security implications and precautions for journalists covering election; and ensuring balanced media coverage during election. The topics were lectured by Paul Wilson, Director, NEC Civic and Voter Education Section; Thomas Kaydor, Assistant Professor, University of Liberia; an official from Senator Steve Zargo’s office who proxy for the lawmaker; and Minister of Information, Legerhood Rennie.

   The discussants emphasized on the need for the editors to provide guidance for their reporters when it comes to election reporting, and urged them to report what they see and back their reportage with evidence. They noted that the importance of the December 8, 2020 election to the sustainability of the nation’s democracy cannot be overemphasized, as neighboring Guinea and Ivory Coast are going through post-electoral violence. They also warned the media bosses not to handle their stories in a similar manner as the “citizen journalist” who does not take into consideration the journalistic theory of social responsibility; rather, they should report only the fact, back it up with evidence and be fair in their reportage by giving every side equal coverage.

   At the forum, an editorial handbook, titled, “Newsroom Handbook: A Conflict Sensitive Approach To Election Reporting”, was launched by the Liberia Media Development Program. The book, which covers all the topics lectured at the forum, details the principles of conflict sensitive journalism with practical strategies for election reporting to explore how media workers can play a role in protecting and promoting free and fair election, and aims at providing guidelines that editors and reporters can follow as they strategize around ways of reporting on the build-up to election.

   Topics covered by the book include: conflict sensitive reporting and election, the media’s role in covering elections, covering elections, and personal security.    The book was distributed to each of the participants, as President Garblah encouraged the editors to make maximum use of the tool in their newsroom.

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