Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

Ethics in every profession requires nothing more than rules of integrity and procedures that ensure rights of clients and the responsibility of the practioners to the clients. Professionalism on duty can be simply described as the practical demonstration of ethics.

Media ethics stress among other things, confidentiality and the protection of source(s). It also emphasizes the rights of newsmakers in any case, and spurns privacy invasion. This is a rudimentary premise set for the common reader to understand the issues that sometimes appear to be complicated to a bedazzled state where editors and writers found canopying shields to vent out individual frustrations or rancor against other people, particularly when caught in self-made disputes.

It is so obvious that the current dispensation has allowed for much press freedom. This is a great victory for all activists of press freedom and democracy. What remains a major challenge in consolidating true democracy is to build in the press traits of ethical responsibilities and professionalisms that will ensure the rights of the readers and the rights of the newsmakers as well from the hordes of privacy invasions in today’s media that are mostly blown out of extreme emotions, senile ambitions, incompetence, and individual bitterness.

The current media landscape in Liberia can boast of at least 15 local dailies on the newsstand every working day. This unhindered presence of papers on the newsstand tells of the level of freedom media houses and practitioners enjoy in the country currently. This is however not the issue, because it was advocated for and it has been achieved.

The issue here now is how to have the free press sustained. Can it be done through arrogant reportage or ridiculous flippancies that bring no real news, but mere stories associated with news makers? Of course not. The element of prominence in news writing does not mean whatsoever a prominent person does is news. The issue must be newsworthy before the aspect of prominence is counted.

The above analysis of professionalism and ethics in news writing is attempted to make a decisive intervention in what seems to appear as a rancorous outburst against Information Minister Lawrence Bropleh by the Front Page Africa Website.

In several articles, the FPA had been overwhelmed with personal grief and emotions at the expense of the journalistic profession which among all of its requirements emphasizes objectivity and neutrality of a news writer. Over the years, the FPA has become a popular site for its groundbreaking news on corruption, e.g. The Email Scam. Whether the FPA has been right in entering or hacking into personal emails, a real example of cyber crime is a question. But that does not in any way radiate any commitment to the anti-corruption fight launched in this country, and it is also no indicator of good journalism, because a public relations media outlet for an overzealous “Accountant” harboring future political ambitions does not signal objectivity to the intelligentsia.

The FPA has been finally brought to the fore, and all skeletal bones of its operations as a propaganda machine of the politician wearing mask and garment of an “Accountant” is now made public as everyone sees its articles and the sides of the pendulum it swings particularly when the “Accountant’s” interests is known.

In its 2008 purported Cabinet grade sheet, the FPA in flagrant ignominy and audacious show of odium against Lawrence Bropleh, graded the venerated Information Minister an ‘F’ indicating, according to Liberian local schooling system, that the Information Minister and his Ministry ‘performed dismally’, and ‘did not achieve anything for the year’. This grading was however laughable because lot of professional Liberians working in the Cabinet who have made significant strides in reforming and accelerating our development process were also stab by the spineless saw of the FPA. What a sheer fallacy and frivolous show of ethical misconduct and professional crime? Was the Front Page on the Back Page when the MICAT was making significant gains in 2008 including programs of empowering and trainings for local journalists, or was its lenses covered with dusts when the MICAT in partnership with CSOs finalized and presented three draft media laws for enactment into law? Generally, can the FPA tell under whose administrative direction has the MICAT ever organized an uninterrupted weekly press briefing in this country, or under whose leadership has the MICAT ever been vibrant in all functions-information, culture and the newly explored virgin tourism industry? Though all empirical evidence can speak of the visionary leadership of Lawrence Bropleh that has transformed the MICAT, the FPA is yet to appreciate that. But Bropleh’s achievements or that of any other Liberian cannot be left to be measured by a mercenary media outlet, but by the Liberian people whose confidence Bropleh and his likes of level-headed and concerned citizens continue to feast with pride as a result of their invaluable service to the nation.

The most recent and controversial version of FPA’s smear campaigns against outstanding public servants is its futile attempt to distract Lawrence Bropleh from the speed at which he is moving with progress in the Information Ministry, and his information revolution that has now made Government widely open and visible like a public theatre. This move by the FPA, as can be described by the British media expert, James Shell, is nothing other than abusing the rights of press freedom ‘to fulfill illegal mercenary duties’.

In an article entitled “Did Bropleh Mislead ‘Investor’? Minister Denies Peddling, Misusing Sirleaf’s Name”, the FPA neglected all professional responsibilities in an attempt to destroy Lawrence Bropleh. With all clarities from the Minister, the FPA concluded by listing the Minister among those in the habit of influence peddling by using the President’s name. The article also refused to appreciate all the nationalistic steps taken by Bropleh to salvage the natural resources form the ‘profiteering-philanthropist’, but the FPA rather kept on frivolity expecting to be on the side of the truth by rallying unfounded grounds that would at all cost implicate the Minister. Any objective analysis of the interaction between the Minister and the Belgian trader under the guise of a ‘philanthropist’ cannot indict Bropleh for influence peddling as the FPA would want people to believe. It takes a dedicated public servant to take the position Bropleh took during his interactions with the Belgian trader.

In this propaganda piece, the FPA committed sixty-five grammatical errors ranging from poor sentence construction to unparallel flow of ideas and from careless mechanics to serious conflicts between the subjects and the verbs. Seven illogical arguments and numerous breaches of professional ethics from the article were also discovered. The FPA however does not care as to whether the intelligentsia will form an opinion against this article considering its bold-faced absurdities, poor construction, ill-fated logic and disjointed arguments. What the FPA cares for is to tarnish, and discredit people of distinguishable records who fail to succumb to their overtures. What a futile adventure? This cannot in any way discourage or minimize the enthusiasm of Lawrence Bropleh nor can it have him distracted from his services to this country.

The next part of this article will expose the source of FPA’s support or the station that is fueling it propaganda machine against hardworking Liberians.

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