“The backwardness of this country, the underdevelopment of this country, the rampant corruption we have in this country, if we don’t have a vibrant media we have a long way to go in Liberia.”
Veteran Liberian Journalist now Media Developer, Varney Vikings Karneh, did not mince his words when he revealed the root causes of bad governance in Liberia and the flaws in the Liberian media when he spoke with aspiring journalists in Liberia.
He cautioned them not to compromise their professional ethics for financial gains, or social affiliation, as the Liberian media has a crucial role to play in society.
Mr. Karneh challenged young journalists to investigate the owners of media entities they desire working at before taking up employment.
“Before you take up employment in any media institution, investigate who owned the media entity, how will it affect you dreams as a professional person.” Karneh said.
Speaking during KMTV online media training on Wednesday, Mr. Karneh said, the unethical practices in the Liberian media is also due to politicians owning and determining media content that favors them or their interest.
He warned upcoming journalists to be very wise and not follow the unethical practices of some journalists or talk show hosts in Liberia.
The veteran media trainer also encouraged aspiring journalists to identify some professional media gurus to serve as their professional mentor.
He said most upcoming journalist do not have mentors, thus allowing them not to be more professional.
Varney who previously worked for the Liberian Media Center as a Local Media Trainer under the Canadian Journalist for Human Rights Project, also frowned at the low salaries provided journalists in Liberia by owners of media entities.
He alleged that some media institutions do not pay their staffs but only provide them letter of employment and provide ID cards and leave them to fend for themselves.
“Look at the quality of the media people they take in, how much do they pay them, for example, I live Brewerville, and if I’m working with a media institution in town and they give me $50usd for example, transportation alone will finish that, then you send me to go and investigate a public official that have been accused of corruption and he give me $200usd, that’s my four months’ pay,” he said.
He argued that if media institution were concerned about the standards of journalists, they will absorb the best in their employ and provide them finances to commensurate with their skills.
“Which one of the media institution do you see really paying journalist $200USD or more in Liberia, very few, I know of Front Page Africa and ECOWAS Radio.
He continued, “employers give you letter and ID cards and you fend for yourself, at the end of the day it undermines your professional desire that you have because you will be corrupted.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Varney Karneh has assured the upcoming journalists of his support to their professional development.
The ongoing training is part of KMTV initiative to develop the skills of reporters, interns and aspiring journalists in Liberia. The event is hosted via zoom under the guidance of Liberian Journalist based in the USA Mr. Nathan Charles.
Mr. Charles is an award winning journalist from the Press Union of Liberia and a former media trainer for the Canadian Journalist for Human Rights.
Journalists from Margibi, Bomi, Nimba, Montserrado counties and Ghana as well as students from the Peter Quaqua School of Journalism, a flagship program of Media Aid Foundation and the Lewis Togba School of Journalism are also benefiting from the month long training.