In a bid to minimize or eradicate the barrage of unethical and unprofessional journalistic practices across Liberia, A Liberian Journalist Robert Haynes has launched a campaign calling for the licensing of Journalists across Liberia before practicing as a media practitioner in the Country.
According to Robert Haynes Journalism is not an occupation neither a stepping stone area rather it is a respectable profession which requires ethics and standards as such people should be license to practice.
He argued that if nurses, doctors and lawyers who are all professional people like journalists but are license to practice in Liberia why not Journalists.
Mr. Haynes stressed that those who favors some kind of license or pre-requisite to become a journalist underscore the social relevance and sensitiveness of the job in order to fulfill another fundamental right of every citizen – the right to information (to a truthful, independent, accurate and comprehensive information on the actuality). And, because of that, they stress the importance of having well-prepared, professionalized, ethically responsible and accountable people working as journalists, in order to properly meet such a demanding right.
Haynes, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication from the University of Liberia, also obtained several professional papers from the People’s Republic of China and parts of Africa and has practice for over ten (10) years in different roles in the profession ranging from Cup Reporter, Reporter, Editor, Director of News among others.
The Liberian Journalist said in the absence of license there are several others who jump into the profession and are denigrating it by their reportage and worst of all some get involve heavily in blackmailing only because they have access to a microphone or a news outlet; something he said is counterproductive to the Journalism profession.
“The profession is a noble one as such it should be treated in said direction, it is about time to change the paradigm”, he intoned.
According to him, he feels embarrassed when people brand the media in a negative manner only because there are few bad apples in the sector, this is the time to act, Mr. Haynes stated.
He wants well-prepared, professionalized, ethically responsible and accountable people working as journalists in Liberia, in order to properly meet such a demanding right.
Explaining and justifying further, he said “Graduating with a Bachelor degree or Associate does not make you a person a Journalist rather he/she must be certified by the Press Union via test to make you qualify to practice, just like people-graduating from the law school does not make them lawyers rather, they have to sit the Bar test and pass before they are license to practice law in Liberia”. Haynes averred.
When Journalists are license and refused to live within the ethics his/her license will be revoked so as Nurses or Doctors including lawyers, Robert indicated.
The young Liberian media practitioner recalled that the Liberia Revenue Authority and the Liberia National Bar Association signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for collaboration on the payment of license fees by lawyers.
Under the MOU, lawyers will have to pay their license fees to the LRA and submit genuine receipts to the LNBA before they are licensed legally to practice law in the country; something he wants to see happen for Journalists in the Country so as to avoid the too much of unethical practices.
Haynes said in as much as it is welcoming to have many people in the profession, it is also prudent to scrutinize it properly.
He underscored the importance of the Journalism profession and indicated that the licensing of Journalists before practicing will ensure a high level of professionalism and will guarantee that only the right people will practice Journalism in the country.
“The vulnerability of the media sector as well as the lack of structures and systems is eating up the fabrics of the pivotal profession and it is about time to take the necessary steps to save the face of the unique, noble and cherished profession which I have so much passion for”, he noted.
“Today and going forward, I am leading a campaign to ensure journalists are licensed before they can practice and I know it will not be an easy challenge but I am certain that I will succeed and those who believe in this struggle, I am encouraging them to join me in order to save the image of the journalism profession”, Robert concluded.
He called on other partners and international groups in the sector to join him in said advocacy to ensure it becomes a success.