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A host of Liberian media personalities, officials of government and representatives of political parties as well as key social media influencers have conveyed strong messages around the need to maximize the power of the media for the public good, rather than to use it to undermine the peace, stability and development of Liberia.
The messages were made Thursday July 18, 2019 during a strategic media roundtable organized by the European Union Delegation to Liberia.
The dialogue addressed the role of the media as a powerful agent for enhancing peace, reconciliation, good governance, accountability and development in Liberia; but also the possible use of the media as a vehicle to disseminate inflammatory messages and hate speech, that are detrimental for the peace and stability of the country.
Participants in the dialogue discussed challenges to national and local media in providing reliable information within the present political, social and economic context; the sources/triggers of inflammatory/ hate messages; and obstacles in self-regulating hate speech in media/social media.
The journalists, government representatives, politicians and social media influencers during the dialogue identified the economic constraints which affect media viability, politicians' penetration and ownership of media outlets, as well as challenges in media self-regulation as key challenges that hinder the dissemination of accurate information by the local and national media.
The roundtable's participants also highlighted the need for media institutions to be robust in exercising their gate-keeping role to prevent divisive messages and those with self-seeking agendas to use the media to accomplish their goals.
Addressing the roundtable, Ambassador Hélène Cavé, Head of the European Union Delegation to Liberia said it is important for each Liberian to reflect on how their actions or inactions, their words or silence have an impact on the country's peace.
''The democracy, peace and stability being enjoyed in Liberia today are possible because of the collective contributions of each of you. Every Liberian – the youth, the leaders, the women, the media - have an important role to play in consolidating Liberia's peace and ensuring that Liberia remains on the path of development and progress,'' Amb. Hélène Cavé.
Thursday's roundtable was also attended by Information Minister Hon. Len Eugene Nagbe and Mr. Charles Coffey, President of the Press Union of Liberia.
In his remarks, Minister Nagbe spoke of the important role of the media in the promotion of democracy, peace and development in Liberia.
''The Liberian media is very vibrant and it is a fundamental indispensable partner. Without a strong and vibrant media, we cannot have a democratic society,'' Min. Nagbe emphasized.
For his part, Press Union of Liberia President Charles Coffey said while there is a lot for the media to celebrate, there are still some challenges. Mr. Coffey said there are some existing policies and institutional mechanisms to address these challenges but they need to be strengthened.
Thursday's strategic media roundtable was also intended to enhance the European Union's collaboration and partnership with the Liberian media for improved information sharing on the EU-Liberia relations and greater visibility of the impact of EU interventions in Liberia.
Special guests at the media roundtable included: H.E. Ingrid Wetterqvist, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden, H.E. Hubert J. Jäger, Ambassador of Germany, H.E. Pa Lamin Beyai, Country Representative of the United Nations Development Programme as well as representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).