A Free Press is Not an Irresponsible Press

first_imgMany people seem to be under the impression that a free press means that the media can say whatever it wants. That is not the meaning, though. Free press means that the media is able to report on all events and issues that affect the lives of the public without interference or limitation by the government. However, the basic tenets of good reporting still apply. What are those basic tenets? Accurate, verifiable information confirmed by multiple sources. It does not mean that the reporter can pull together unrelated quotes to make an article reflect his or her personal point of view.I recently held a press roundtable to sum up my time here in Liberia as Ambassador for the United States of America to Liberia. I pointed out progress I have seen as well as areas of concern that need the attention of all the people of Liberia. However, Front Page Africa misrepresented both the content and tone of what I said. Especially egregious among the many misrepresentations was a quote attributed to me that questioned the readiness of Liberia’s security forces to assume responsibility as UNMIL draws down. This is absolutely false, as a transcript from this session will bear out. While acknowledging the work that remains to be accomplished, I also noted progress and emphasized the responsibility that citizenry also plays in ensuring a law-abiding culture takes root and flourishes – in response to two different questions, one on mob violence and one on the UNMIL drawn down. I said:“As for mob violence, it continues to be a concern for us and others, and I think for Liberians themselves to see how quickly some of these incidents can spin out of control. Again, I go back to this need for personal and community responsibility, which each citizen has a role to play in ensuring the security and stability of the State. The government and the security forces have a certain role to play, but they cannot be in every single location. So, it’s really incumbent on communities and counties and districts to develop their own mechanisms to ensure that people don’t allow these kinds of events to spin out of control. When they happen and they end up in either injuries or death to individuals, or destruction of property, you’re only hurting yourselves – you’re not necessarily hurting the target of that anger.Then in response to a different question on the UNMIL draw down:“We have confidence that over time that the government and the people of Liberia are developing the mechanisms and the systems and the institutions to assume responsibility for their own security. And, that really is something that has to happen. It’s been a long time coming. UNMIL has now been here for 12 years, almost 13 years…That’s a long time for a peace keeping mission. Over the last several years, their actual role in terms of maintaining security in the country has really been diminishing. You see them around, but they’ve been drawing down gradually over the last couple of years. So, it’s an inevitable process. It’s something that has to happen. We work, the UN works, with the Liberian National Police. We, of course, have been working with the Armed Forces of Liberia. We work with the Drug Enforcement Agency. Other partners are working with BIN. They are gradually developing capacity to take on responsibility. We’ve seen some progress with the LNP. There’s a lot more work that needs to be done, particularly at the level of local police officers.” Good reporting is an essential part of democracy. It helps the people understand what is happening in their country and with their government. It enables people to become better citizens and respond to issues that affect their lives. However, the press is powerful, and bad reporting is contrary to the goal of a free press. Bad reporting is incendiary – leading to public discontent and reaction that is not in keeping with building a strong, stable country. Journalism is a powerful tool that needs to be used wisely. When used well, journalism improves the country and the lives of the people. When used poorly, journalism is a destructive weapon. I encourage all of the media outlets in Liberia to use their powerful tool of journalism wisely.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

CALL MADE FOR TRAINING OF VOLUNTEERS TO FIGHT GORSE FIRES

first_imgA West Donegal based independent community activist has called for Donegal County Council to establish a training programme to instruct volunteers on the best methods of fighting gorse fires.The fire burns close to Loughanure villageHis comments come in the wake of gorse fires in the Dungloe and Rosses area this week.Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig comments come in the wake of numerous gorse fires breaking out in recent days after the current dry spell. “Given the increase in gorse fires throughout County Donegal in recent years, some of which have done considerable damage I think the County Council, in conjunction with the Fire Service, should give serious consideration to launching a training programme which would give local volunteers the know-how to fight such fires.“Fires such as the ones we have seen recently in the Dungloe, Gweedore and Keadue areas could quickly be brought under control if people who live local to the fire were properly trained in dealing with an event such as a gorse fire.“These fires can cause widespread disruption and huge environmental damage if they manage to get out of control, as we have seen especially in 2011. When this happens the fire service are then stretched to their operational capacity and this in turn puts lives at risk. Having the fire service tied up in fighting gorse fires is also a huge drain to the tax payer.”He concluded, “If we had local women and men properly trained to operate volunteer units to fight gorse fires they then could make the assessment if they can bring the fires under control themselves and whether or not the fire service need to be called out. In the interests of the community, the environment and most importantly human lives, I think it is incumbent upon Donegal County Council to give this serious consideration.” CALL MADE FOR TRAINING OF VOLUNTEERS TO FIGHT GORSE FIRES was last modified: April 3rd, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:gorsefiresvolunteerslast_img read more