A Call for Sanity in the Liberian Media

Deepening Democracy or Butchering Democracy: A Call for Sanity in the Liberian Media

These elections are a watershed in the history of our country. The elections either consolidate the fragile peace the country is experiencing, amidst the poverty and unemployment, or retrogress it in the cesspit of backwardness. Keen on which direction the country moves hinge on the collective decision we make as a people of this space named Liberia. These elections are critical as our collective destiny is tied to the outcome of the process.

The Fourth Estate (the Press, media, news outlets) as any superstructure of society has a peculiar role to play in manning the process in a way that the people will make a rational decision from an informed and well thought perspective. Universally, this is the role the media ought to play, and must do so with a keen eye on the national interest. The press can be a force for good or bad. In most African countries, the gross irresponsibility of certain elements in the media has led to genocidal altercation in Rwanda and tribal wrestling in Kenya.

In Liberia, the situation is quite appalling and mindboggling, most of the individuals in this noble profession are not interested in elevating the national narrative at an appreciable level where the issues that matter can be discussed by the candidates. In honest, genuine conversation has been receded to the dungeon while the inflammatory blabbing of personality has taken center stage in the media landscape.

As the concept of democracy is rooted in the free expression of ideas and the guaranteeing of minority rights over majority rule, it is proper that all sides at the national dialogue be given a place to be heard. To get the idea of each side on how it intends to transform this country. It is this role the media should play in ensuring the right messages are emitted to the people. However, a coterie of marauding racketeers in the Liberian media landscape are defaulting on their journalistic calling and fast casting their lot with partisan journalism.

Of late, there are attempts by some individuals in the Liberian media milieu to arrogate unto themselves the exclusivity to position certain presidential candidates as frontrunners in these elections while others are deemed either surplus to democratic requirements or underdogs in the process. These individuals want to circumscribe the view of the Liberian people by reducing the contestation of 22 candidates to six candidates. Wrongly so they are pursuing such ungodly agenda to the detriment of the other candidates whose politics they disagree.

I have noticed that the Depending Democratic Coalition, the so-called media conglomerate, that prides itself as the lead organization in organizing presidential debate in Liberia, is carefully pursuing its agenda of airbrushing other presidential candidates from the national political discourse while they elevate their candidates on center stage, tacitly communicating to the masses of our people that the six candidates they invite to their events are the ones the masses of the people should vote, in stark exclusion of the other candidates.

Firstly, their name does not reflect the democracy they hold claim to. In democracy such as ours, pluralism is the way out. Every side in our national political conversation ought to be given an opportunity to be heard, for the people to be provided with all the options to make the right decision. If the media which should create a level playing field, is seeing discounting other candidates confirmed by the National Election Commission, speaks to the conspiracy that is in full scale operation in these elections.

Pluralism is the guiding principle of our democratic climate, in other words, all sides must have the opportunity to espouse reasons while they should be given the mantle of authority by the people, not to exclude others. What the elements of the Deepening Democratic Coalition are covertly doing, is to undermine the spirit and intent of this pluralism that our struggle icons fought for on their knees.

Reverse this scenario to that of the government advancing such dichotomy, these elements will take to the airwaves to condemn such action, but today those who were once oppressed, newspaper censored, thrown behind the rusty bars, are the ones creating artificial polls and faking numbers to justify their agenda. Such naked dishonesty leaves me to wonder whether this group intends to deepen democracy or butcher democracy. I argue that the latter would hold true when one looks at the conduct of this group.

And this brings me to their argument that invitation to candidates for the debate is predicated on phantom polls conducted in imaginary areas in the country. If this argument can be lent any currency, we ask the questions: What are the target population of the polls; what is the sample size? We go further by asking whether the polls conducted were based on qualitative or quantity benchmark. Were the polls based on random or selective sampling? These core questions were not addressed by the organizers.

Let play fool to expose how the so-called polls are not worth the paper they were printed on, at least if they were conducted, nowhere in rational thought that participants of 1,000 registered voters are enough to arrive at a generalization for 2. 1million registered voters. This alone is enough to consign the survey to the trash pile. Obviously, without much thought one has exposed the research for the bias it is, and the dishonesty that littered its creation.

Suffice this to mean that the sample for the poll was bias, and it does not mirror the population. It is argued in research studies that the degree of the representativeness of the sample must mirror the population. In clear conclusive term, one does not need to study rocket science to infer that the so-called conmen of the Deepening Democracy Coalition defied logic and the standard operating procedure for research, to execute their agenda of extortion, bias and prejudice.

Furthermore, I can wager that if the conmen from the Deepening Democracy Coalition conducted imaginary polls, they were squarely based on restricted choice to limit the option of the people to select the six candidates the organizers of the research want to feature in their debate. In such a situation, the questionnaire outlined only the six candidates, while the others are not cover in it. This is the trick orchestrated by these carpetbaggers that are bent on bidding for the highest bidder.

Essentially in such a situation, the so-called conscience of the society, the media, is fast degenerating into the monster of the society. Most individuals in this noble profession have buried their conscience in the sand like the proverbial ostrich. Ethics no longer matters in this profession for most of our journalists. Their cravings for money and insatiable penchant for material possession have made them to forfeit their national calling, enthroning the culture of gutter journalism. This is the path they have taken in a county in search of a national direction.

With these fundamental inadequacies of the polls, it is not lost on me that this group is a cartel bent on hoodwinking the unsuspecting people who have not read in their scheme and trickery. It is against this shady guise they hide to implement their agenda.

Where in their understanding of multiparty democracy is this kind of false dichotomy tolerated? Is it that these individuals who pride themselves as kingpins in the media landscape want to ascribe unto themselves the monopoly of deciding who the people should cast their lot with? Or are they so bankrupt to the extent that they fear the progressive politics of the other candidates they refused to invite for the debate?

Joseph Momo, former President of Sierra Leone posits: “A journalist with a pen in his hand is like a soldier with an AK47 riffle in hand. He can either use to kill or defend”. Most of our media practitioners are found wanting in pursuing ethical values; most of them are compromised and are sellouts for the highest bidders. Thus, this bags the question whether the nation-state is on a platter for sale?

Critical for the survival of democracy in a country is the presence of a vibrant media, especially in countries such as ours where most of the electorate are not convalescent with the apropos issues in the political landscape. It becomes the nationalistic duty of the media to bring the people to speed with the issues that matter.

A vibrant media can ensure a vibrant leadership ascends to the summit of the state. A compromised and disingenuous leadership will ensure a disingenuous and compromised leadership takes the mantle of authority in the state. In return, the leadership will bring on the people suffering and misery.

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Alfred P.B. Kiadii

Alfred P. B. Kiadii is a student of the University of Liberia, who studies Political Science with an emphasis in Public Administration. He is a social and political critic, and the secretary general of the Movement for Social Democratic Alternative (MOSODA). He can be contacted on Cell#: +233552176627. Alternatively, he can be reached at bokaidii@gmail.com.
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