Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Partnership with a Crack

The National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Liberian Media had a meeting of the minds as we move closer to the 2011 General Elections. The meeting had a notable purpose: the formation of a “collaborative partnership” between the Media and the NEC. The Commission did not hide her intension for the media’s role in this process. According to the April 8, 2010 edition of the Inquirer Newspaper, the NEC Boss, clearly stated, “the media as a partner should work with the Commission to remove those difficulties that are in the way for the holding of the 2011 elections.” As a matter of fact, one of the Commissioners’ at the meeting referred to the Media as a “major stakeholder in the electoral process.”

The Media Executives at the meeting agreed to work with NEC on a number of issues:
Re-examining of the Code of Conduct for Journalists in electoral reporting, and if need be amend the Code that was adopted in 2005.
That the NEC should not “be selective” in the distribution of its promotional materials to the media

Considering the above and from where we sit, the partnership has already cracked before it was formed. For example, NEC’s perception of the media as a “major stakeholder” has a problem. I hope NEC is not interpreting the media to be a partner without interest in the electoral process. Neither is the Media thinking that NEC in all of its wisdom will not be prudent in the distribution of its media related materials in the face of cost and institutional judgment. Moreover, of the close to twenty newspapers in this Liberia only one, that is, if it is published on given day belongs to the Liberian Government (The New Liberia Newspaper). The same is true about the electronic media. The Liberia Broadcasting Station (LBS) is the only government station. So you see where the Crack is in this partnership; NEC a referee without interest, the media a referee with commercial interest. The person who pays highest takes the day.

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