By: Nathan Charles & Abraham Kollie
The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) is warning journalists to uphold the professional ethics of the media and desist from publicly declaring support to politicians in Liberia.
PUL President Charles Coffey’s comments are in reaction to an ongoing rift between the Manager of Classic FM Radio Emmanuel Deglah and a reporter at the institution Cyrus Konah regarding employees’ support to former House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay for the upcoming midterm Senatorial elections in Margibi County.
Both Degleh and Konah have fallen apart over a request from Degleh, requesting Cyrus and other employees to support Mr. Nuquay or else vacate the entity. Classify FM is believed to be owned by Former Speaker Nuquay.
In a Facebook Messenger chat obtained by KMTV, the station manager Degleh wrote: “Our policy and agenda for 2020 are to make no Nuquay a Senator if you can’t help get out of the way. Classic will support Nuquay 110%.”
But PUL President Coffey said it is troubling that journalists are compromising their integrity due to greed for jobs or benefits from self-seeking politicians.
He provided clarity that the Liberian laws allowed all citizens to have a media entity including politicians but journalists working at media entities own by politicians must do their work without interferences by the politicians.
“Our code of ethics says, once you are a member of the PUL or not it is unethical even if a politician owned a radio station he/she should not use that radio station or media to castigate people or to instigate instability,” Coffey said.
The PUL boss reminded journalists that they are not politicians saying: “You should not get into politics, once you get in politics you are a politician, the Press Union Code of conduct provides that you must not be part of any political party, don’t wear campaign T-shirt, you got to be neutral, your role is to provide a clear picture of all running during elections.”
The rift between the Classic FM Manager and his volunteer/employee has taken over social media with bother throwing jabs at each other. Manager Degleh has meanwhile complained Cyrus to the Liberia National Police over refusal to vacate their radio premises.
When our reporter contacted Mr. Deglah he refused to speak with us but referred our reporter to his social media page where he partly addresses the issues on some of the concerns our reporter had to ask.
Classic FM Liberia Response
“The rule of law is the best practice, Cyrus had an issue with two senior staff of Classic FM and we had a conference today and we asked him to stay off duty until we conclude the investigation but he defied me and said no one can stop him and entered the studio three times and said he would enter the premises any time he wishes and we call the police to ensure that we don’t have a physical confrontation.
As per the Police intervention, they asked Cyrus Idea Konah to stay off Classic Radio premises until the investigation can be concluded on Thursday of next.
Cyrus had declared his intention to contest the representative seat of district 4, Margibi in 2020, and colleagues in Classic FM official chatroom have said he was far from becoming representative and he had an outburst in the chatroom insulting which later resulted to a harsh and verbal confrontation.
As a matter of fact, Classic as an institution wouldn’t force any staff to support any politician but sadly Cyrus has already declared his intention to contest the 2023 Representative election in District 4, Margibi and he sees others as perceived political enemies.
Anyway, the Management of Classic will make public the investigation Thursday’s of next week.” The statement concluded.
Also speaking to KMTV, Cyrus Konah said, he was removed from Classic FM staffer chat room simply because he refused to support former Speaker Nuquay for the pending midterm Senatorial election.
Konah said respond provided by the manager of Classic FM Radio via Facebook is false and misleading, noting that he has been keeping all necessary conservations in their chat room.
“The management feels that when their owner and political godfather Nuquay loss the pending election, Classic FM will exist no more,” Konah said.
Konah further alleged that Classic FM Station Management has not paid some workers for several months. He disclosed that the commotion started when he posted in their media chat room that he will contest in district four Margibi county comes 2023, and staffers at the institution have been against his decision.
Cyrus who served as Sports Director at Classic Radio furthered that, it’s unethical as a media institution to carry on such activities as he called on other media institutions across the country to follow the journalists’ code of ethics in the country.
Meanwhile, the Press Union of Liberia President Charles Coffey said, journalists need employment, but they must do their work independently; naming the News Newspaper which is owned by Wilson Tarpeh, but said that paper is balance and that Mr. Tarpeh doesn’t interfere with their news-editorial operation.
He said ownership of media entity and content determine by politicians is greatly affecting professionalism because some of the owners will decide what journalists will discuss.
Mr. Coffey said due to such behavior many professional journalists resigned form media institutions due to the Interference of owners of the media.
Coffey said the PUL is limited to screening accreditation and license for media houses because they don’t get involved in the process “The Press Union is limited, it doesn’t grant radio station status to people, they go at Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism and get a permit and go to Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) for frequencies.