The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas ALJA has expressed disappointment over the manner some journalists are breaking away from the mother’s Union of Journalists in Liberia .
ALJA President Joe Mason, speaking on State Radio recently said, having a split media will only set back gains made by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), and allow evil people against the media to exploit the situation and divide the media even more.
“We think it is unfortunate that some members of the PUL now have a splinter group , we believed as an organization, journalists must be united because we now have lots of opposing forces coming against us and will exploit any division in our midst to set back some of the gains we’ve achieved in the country, so we’re extremely disappointed to see the divide.”
He disclosed that ALJA has not been sitting quietly from the unset of the breeding conflict amongst some members of the PUL, and disclosed that the association Vice President, Pewee Baysah, during a visit to Liberia recently intervene to resolve the conflict during a mediation discussion.
Mason said as an organization, ALJA respects and believes that there should be one media union and said their organization will continue to work with the PUL and not a splinter media group.
The newly elected President of ALJA, Joe Mason said they understand that their media colleagues who have formed a splinter group have legitimate concerns, those concerns can be address .”No matter what those concerns are we can sit at the table and discuss and come to amicable resolution.”
He warned journalists to unite, because in his words “the sooner the better before people exploit the process.”
Journalists COVID-19 Fight:
He said ALJA as an institution recognizes the numerals sacrifices by journalists in Liberia as they are risking their lives to properly educate, inform the Liberian people about the danger or COVID-19.
“That’s why we decided to appreciate in our own way the sacrifices of our colleagues by providing 150 bags of rice, 45 gallons of oil, 1500 reusable face masks to journalists in Liberia.”
He said even though, they live in the epic center of the virus but they are in some ways in a better situation aimed at providing their daily meal as compared to their colleagues back home in Liberia . “It was just to say thanks to our colleagues for their numerals sacrifice they are doing.”
Mason said journalists are so important in the COVID-19 fight aimed at allowing Liberia to win the fight against the virus and called on the government to support the media .”right now we need all hands on board , the last we want is a divided effort.”
Govt & Media Fight:
“We encourage the Government to dialogue with the media on issues, especially during this time of emergency so collectively we all can win this battle against COVID-19.
On the issue of free Press, ALJA’s President Joe Mason said, gains have been made over the years between media and past governments but pointed accusing fingers at the George Weah’s administration for muzzling the Liberian media. “Of late there has been attempt by the government to muzzle the media.”
He said, the special investigative committee to investigate insults and harassment against Liberia journalists was just a lip service as government has shown no interest in furthering the investigations.
Justifying his views, the ALJA President said, his stance is prompted from the fact that two members of the media investigative committee resigned because the Liberian government has not shown any interest to investigation the abuse of journalists by state securities.
He differed with comments that the process is stalled or slow due to COVID -19, as he argues that the country is in some form of normalcy and as such the investigation committee can start discussing basic principles via virtual meetings.
Joe Mason also says, there is mistrust between the government and the media and said both side needs each others and its time both work together to move forward “we as a watch dogs continue to be watching so that the gains we made over the years are not reverse.”
He commended Liberian media practitioners for their commitment to their duty, and said ALJA will remain a critical voice for Liberia’s democracy and media development.