spot_imgspot_img
Thursday, June 20, 2024

TRANSFORMING LIBERIA’S MEDIA GENERALISTS INTO SPECIALISTS

Date:

By Jacob N.B. Parley

The 21st Century, in addition to the good fruits being brought forth in the area of technological advancement is equally posing serious challenges, with which those who want to be on the good side of history must learn to coop or have themselves to blame by lacking behind.

For example, when I started my journalism career on the national scene in 1991, with the Vanguard Newspaper (now defunct) in Buzzi Quarter, Monrovia, I was blessed to have met a number of professionals whose experiences helped me in preforming my reportorial duties in the newsroom.

However, one of the unfortunate things we had to grapple with in the newsroom at the time was the use of manual type writers to prepare stories.

At nearly each news desk was a correction fluid to handle typographical errors arising from the tension-bursting work.

I do know that newsrooms are still known for their tension-related work.  However, thanks that the advancement of technology has helped to address some of these challenges to some extent.

Take for instance, the domain was totally different, compared to toady, when volumes of documents are carried on just a single memory stick and where a whole newsroom, particularly layout of the newspaper can be done on a laptop.

The improved way of printing newspapers and related documents on computers toady was not the case those days.

At the time I started, photo journalism was also burdensome, with the use of manual cameras that had to be taken into the dark room for processing photographs, among other time-honored approaches in executing our duties to society.

In nearly every newsroom, particularly the newspaper, there was something like a bulletin board containing the photos of newsmakers and the various institutions, both public and private.

We were mainly using the black and white films, and in some cases where the appropriate film was not available, color films, like Kodak, Fujica, Tudor, just to mention a few, were available at the time.

The major reason for putting these ideas together through this medium is the need for us to take into consideration the concept of specialization in our work as journalists.

Significance of Specialization

With the advent of the digital age, with the global space increasing, one has to take specialization into consideration. My fear is that unless proactive steps are taken by the Press Union of Liberia, media owners and managers, as well as individual Liberian journalists, the media environment in Liberia may not propel itself for the challenges, not ahead, but already making themselves visible in the field of journalism.

For instance, there are experts in the medical profession.

The essence of our colleagues other professions getting specialized is to enable them handle specific matters with efficiency and proficiency.

In this case, good results are achieved, if not by hundred percent, but at least on a substantial basis.

For instance, a medical personnel who performs surgery is called a surgeon.

Among these medical experts are those who are trained in handling Cardiac problems (heart-related diseases), there are brain surgeons, there are Gynecologists, there are specific walls (Pediatrics) relating to children), there are virologists in the same medical field. The first time I heard about the word virologists from a repeated standpoint was during the Ebola crisis in Liberia.

  1. There are scientists (those who are well-schooled in the field of science). There are wizards in the field of science ;( Zoologists, Botanists, Chemists, Physicists, Taxonomists, Cytologists, Biologists) etc. Yes, they are all considered as scientists.

But a Taxonomist stands in a better position to classify organisms, compared to a Chemist, while a Cytologist is well-placed to handle issues relating to cells than a Virologist may do. I am just trying to provide these points on the basis of what I am following through reading.

I am sure that we (journalists) in Liberia can also do similar things in our professional lives.

Let me admit that we (Liberian journalists) are trying our best in the face of alarming danger, logistical and financial challenges to be making the nature of progress we are making.

But I strongly believe that there is now a stronger need to graduate from being media generalists to media specialists.

For instance, we need economic/financial reporters, who will be able to professionally analyze issues of the national budget and the economy from an informed perspective.

I am not however suggesting that no journalist in Liberia has ever done professional analysis of economic or financial issues.

For instance, the Press Union of Liberia has specific prizes for those who always go the extra mile in professional reportage in some of these areas, to include the National Legislature, the Judiciary, investigation, sports, mental issues, development, and so forth.

Even in the case of sports, we could go further by looking at other units, like the Track and Field, Football, Golf, Karate, etc.

We need Defense Affairs reporters, diplomatic reporters, environmental journalists, political reporters, crime reporters, the business sector, etc.

Positive effects of specialization

  1. Doing one thing over and over puts one in an ultimate position in terms of performance.
  2. Being specialized enables one to exercise authority over the matter.
  3. Specialization promotes effectiveness, proficiency and efficiency.
  4. Specialization promotes respect as nearly every newsmaker, including the public will always like to follow one’s work and see such reporter as a reliable person, etc.

Challenges to specialization

 On the basis of my experience, there are a number of factors that are affecting the issue of specialization in Liberia’s media environment.

  1. under staffed media entities:

Apparently because of lack of financial resources, some media institutions are unable to employ more people.

This is why you realize that the same reporter who is covering the Foreign Ministry is the same one covering several other areas like the Judiciary, Agriculture and Education.  Getting such reporter specialized is an uphill task.

  1. Lack of regular capacity-building: Getting someone specialized requires constant training and support in the subject area, both locally and internationally.

But in most cases as soon as capacity-building is done one time, you hardly hear about it again.

  1. Lack of adequate funding: Ensuring media experts in Liberia requires funding so that knowledgeable people can be recruited locally or brought in to conduct the training.
  2. Rotation of reporters: There are times some media colleagues want to specialize in specific areas. But rotating them sometimes kills their dream.

While I agree that keeping one reporter on one assignment indefinitely is not professionally healthy, the idea also hampers one’s determination to be an expert in that area.

  1. Envy: There are instances in which people are hastily recalled from certain assignments, not on the basis of poor performance, but simply on envious or political grounds.

”Oh, chief, you still keeping that man on the assignment just like that his inheritance?”

Using myself as an example, between 2010 and 2011, I was removed from the editorial team at the Liberia Broadcasting System three times in less than a year. Based on how the newsroom was structured at the time, such decision meant reduction in rank three times in less than a year.  This had never ever happened to any other editorial staff in the existence of LBS.

The action against me was not based on lack of performance, but at the dictate elements, (reporters and their likes) who saw me and knew me as one of the few editorials who could not easily be dribbled or pulled by the nose by a reporter/newscaster.

When I was news director, editor-in-chief, etc, at LBS, there were certain reporters/newscasters who never experienced running stomach until on November 29, President Tubman’s birthday, March 15, J.J. Roberts birthday, March Second Wednesday, National Decoration Day, etc. Is it really possible for somebody working in the newsroom to be sick only on major holidays?

I did not make noise about being reduced in rank three times in less than a year. But the moment I started bearing good fruits at the Executive Mansion to the extent that former Liberian Chief Executive, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf started recognizing me through praises in the presence of others who I met on the assignment, especially when she included me on her trip to the Netherlands in early 2013, I was prematurely withdrawn from the Executive Mansion as LBS Correspondent.

Can you imagine, my colleague from LBS who stayed over four years on the assignment prior to sending me there was still kept there?

  1. Future survival: There are reporters who do not want to get specialized, with the fear that doing so may reduce their financial chances, thereby affecting their future survival.

They believe that once the public realizes that a certain journalist covers the Judiciary, that journalist may not receive a call for programs by the banking institutions, political parties or all other programs that do not fall within his professional perimeter.

A generalist may have an idea on a number of areas and could take advantage when one opportunity closes, but such person may not be well-positioned to exercise authority over the subject matter as a specialist may do.

I do know that the issue of specialization is being gradually considered in Liberia, but I want us step it up a little bit for our own good.

The author is reachable through:

Contacts: +231 777604576/+231 886560455

Email: jacobtheancestor@yahoo.com /jacobnbparley1@gmail.com

WhatsApp: +231881336136

smartnews
Smart News Liberia is an online news outlet and a product of Smart Media Group Inc. Our website, smartnewsliberia.com, covers a broad spectrum of news content. For inquiries or information, you can reach us at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or email us at smartnewsliberia@gmail.com or info@smartnewsliberia.com.

LATEST DEVELOPMENT

THE SENATE’S EXTRAVAGANCE AMID ECONOMIC DESPAIR

The recent Senate retreat in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County,...

LIBERIA’S LEGAL SYSTEM UNDER SIEGE: THE UNPUNISHED CRIMES OF MARIA LUYKEN

In October 2020, the Criminal Court ‘B’ at the...

COMMUNICATIONS MISHAP: A SIGNIFICANT EMBARRASSMENT TO THE PRESIDENCY

The recent debacle surrounding the Unity Party government's conflicting...

COMMENTARY

NO, SPEAKER KOFFA, I DISAGREE WITH THE DEFENSE OF LAWMAKERS

By Wondah L. Jah In a recent public statement, Grand...

COMMEMORATING THE 80TH ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY: A DEFINING MOMENT IN HISTORY

Eighty years ago, on June 6, 1944, the course...

THERE SHOULD BE NO BIG DEAL WHEN A GOVERNMENT DOES WHAT IT WAS ELECTED FOR…

A Patriot's Diary  With Ekena Nyankun Juahgbe-Droh Wesley  President Joseph Boakai's...

LATEST NEWS

SPEAKER CHAMBERS’ POINTLESS TIRADE AGAINST DEPUTY SPEAKER, CLLR. FONATI KOFFA

By Windah L. Jah MONROVIA, LIBERIA – In the hallowed...

LIBERIA: WEAH, BOAKAI TO FACE-OFF IN RUNOFF AGAIN – AS NEC DECLARES CAMPAIGN OPEN

MONROVIA – Amid political pundits’ prediction that the presidential...

LIBERIA: BOAKAI HAS A HERCULEAN TASK OF NATION-BUILDING: EX-PRO TEMP JALLAH 

MONROVIA – Former President Pro Tempore of the Liberian...

Share post:

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

OPINION

ELEVATING THE AG BIBLE COLLEGE TO A UNIVERSITY: A MILESTONE ACHIEVEMENT

By Jacob N.B. Parley After many years of successful preaching...

THE DILEMMA OF PRESIDENTIAL SUPREMACY IN LIBERIA: EXAMINING THE BALANCE OF POWER

By Dr. Clarence R. Pearson, Sr. Superior presidency is the...

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY IN UP-LED GOVERNMENT’S DEAL RAISES SERIOUS CONCERNS

In a shocking and controversial move, the Unity Party...

THE PERILS OF PRAISE SINGING: HOW JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY IS ESSENTIAL FOR ACCOUNTABILITY IN LIBERIA

Journalists play a crucial role in holding public officials...

THE GALLERY

spot_imgspot_img

MORE ARTICLES

spot_imgspot_img

MORE NEWS

LATEST DEVELOPMENT NEWS

LATEST CRIME NEWS

Share via
Copy link