Support for Independent Media in Liberia’s New Democracy

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Goals of the workshop

  • To identify the needs and challenges of the media environment in Liberia;
  • To examine the media’s role in contributing to the country’s peace and reconciliation process;
  • To underscore media as a critical component of promoting democracy and good governance;
  • To foster a dialogue among donors.


Opening and Introductions

Marguerite Sullivan
Senior Director

Liberia’s Media Landscape: Views from the Ground

Dave Peterson
Director, Africa Program
National Endowment for Democracy

Press Union of Liberia: Past, Present, and Future
Philip Sandi
Secretary General
Press Union of Liberia

Gender Matters: Promoting and Supporting Women’s Participation in Building an Independent Media in Liberia
Tovian Estella Nelson
Executive Director
Liberian Women’s Media Action Committee

Open Discussion                            

  • What are the obstacles to practicing independent, reliable, objective journalism? How independent are the media in Liberia? Is there a difference between print and broadcast freedoms?
  • Is media literacy among the public high? Among government officials? How can this be addressed?
  • Has practicing journalism improved in the post-war environment? If so, how? What effect has this had on the peace and reconciliation process?
  • What support organizations or programs exist for women journalists? For highlighting women’s issues in the media?

Looking Forward: Economic Sustainability and Journalism Training

Liberia’s Fourth Estate: Challenges and Opportunities of the Business Environment
Michael Keating
Senior Fellow/Associate Director
Center for Democracy and Development, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Capacity Building and Journalism Training
Lawrence Randall
Liberian Media Center

Empowering Communities through Radio: Training Community Radio Managers and Producers
William Burke
Mano River Media Forum/Democracy Media 

Open Discussion

  • How does Liberia’s economic situation affect the ability of the media sector to become sustainable? Specifically, how does it affect print, radio, and TV?
  • Are there other efforts in similarly developing economic systems that could serve as models to create sustainable media outlets (public, private, or mixed; new media)?
  • Does the private sector contribute to media development now and if so, how? Are there opportunities for greater private sector involvement?
  • What professional training is available to journalists by local and international media development organizations and what additional support do journalists need?

Looking Forward: Lessons Learned and New Media

Media Assistance in Liberia: Lessons Learned
Anne Bennett
Country Representative Sierra Leone
Fondation Hirondelle

Paul-André Wilton
Africa Support team
Search for Common Ground

Something Old, Something New: Integrating ICT into Liberia’s Media Landscape
David Sasaki
Rising Voices (via telephone) 

Open Discussion

  • What media assistance strategies have worked well in countries experiencing similar conditions that could serve as a model in Liberia?
  • Is there effective coordination among NGOs, both local and international ones, as well as between the implementers and donors? Is duplication of projects a problem? If so, how can coordination be improved?
  • How are international organizations supporting media? In what areas (such as professional development, media legislation reform, or economic sustainability)? How successful has the “Partnership for Media and Conflict Prevention in West Africa” been in Liberia?
  • How large a role are new media (i.e., Internet and mobile phones) playing in the way journalists convey information and how the public consumes news?
  • Is citizen, or participatory, journalism affecting the local or national news agenda?
  • Are organizations integrating new media into their projects? If so, how, and what is the most effective way to do this?

Concluding Discussion

  • What are the needs and challenges of the media environment in Liberia?
  • How are the media contributing to conflict resolution and maintaining peace and stability in Liberia? How can this be improved?
  • How can stakeholders encourage the government of Liberia to make a substantial investment in developing the media sector?
  • Where should local and international NGOs focus their efforts? Donors? What are the recommendations going forward?