MONROVIA, Feb. 4 (LINA) – As part of its Regional Program in Africa, Internews-Liberia in partnership with the leadership of the National Union of Organizations of the Disabled, has gathered several media practitioners from across the countryto form a network of journalists that will ensure a full prioritization through their reportage of issues relating to Persons with Disabilities.
The Journalists were recruited from Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, Bong, Nimba and Grand Bassa counties.
They all formed part of a forum held in Monrovia Thursday at which Press Union of Liberia Vice President Daniel Nyakonah, represented the Union while the Secretary General of the Publishers Association of Liberia, James G. Kiazolu also attended on behalf of his institution.
It was revealed that the project, with a duration is two years, has given rise to the forum that focuses on “changing the narrative” by including the voices and participation of Persons with Disabilities to improve media coverage on disability issues in Liberia.”
In a statemrnt delivered at the forum, Internews Country Director, Lein Bach said the project is meant to empower the Media, CSOs and other Stakeholders for an amplifying role relating to the activities of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) via Radio and Newspaper publication, stakeholders dialogue and other Community conversations.
Madam Bache also referenced impact made by Internews over the past five years through training of Journalists to ensure “quality reports” on issues of Health, Elections (specifically 2017 and 2020) and Women Rights.
« In view of such, we wish with the experience of these journalists and support from our Regional Office; that media will increasingly emphasize basic happenings of PWDs,” she mentioned.
The one-day gathering also hosted an Italian advocacy institution based in Liberia, AIFO; an institution that has 20 years of operations with different Disability groups across Liberia.
On behalf of AIFO-Liberia, the Country Director Melany Dey lauded donors and partners for the innovative project; stating, “disability inclusion is a priority for AIFO, and central to the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind ».
Dey said the activities espoused by this project will help shift the paradigm of the public towards persons with disabilities and accept them as active contributors to society; thus pointing out the media as a crucial partner in the quest to reduce, if not, eliminate degrading discrimination and marginalization that people with disabilities continue to face in the society.
The project springs out amidst high demand through advocacy for the representation of PWDs at public functions and their inclusion in the county and national budgets as well as guaranteed accessibility to public facilities.
During the training, the participants unanimously shared the view that political and other financial driven reports have overshadowed the human interest stories; which also include the happenings in the environment of PWDs.
As part of the project, Internews-Liberia will provide training for 15 journalists described as ‘Fellows’ and ensure constant engagement and guidance for a great output relative to story ideas.
The Thursday, February 4, session produced recommendations from participating institutions, such as provision of Media gadgets and financial support from Internews, partnership with advocacy groups for disabilities and the allotment of Air time and Spot on Newspaper; as sustainability remains significant to the Project.
Meanwhile, PUL and Publishers Association representatives expressed their impression about the new project and commended the organizing body for continuously empowering media workers for quality service to the state and its citizens.