May 3 of each year is observed universally as World Press Freedom Day with appropriate program, highlighting the significance of a free press in a democracy. The WPFD observance in Liberia is led by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), the umbrella organization of journalists in the country. These activities have mostly been in terms of hosting a parade, followed by an indoors program, where speeches about freedom and democracy are made.
Traditionally, the WPFD ends with the hosting of the Annual Press Union of Liberia Awards event. By this event, journalists and media houses are recognized for their exceptional reportage and professionalism. The awards have grown from simple certificates in the past, and now increasingly have gift items and monetary awards. The Awards Evening has been separated in recent times from the mean events in the counties but will now be held as part of programs lineup for the celebration of World Press Freedom Day in Monrovia.
In recent years, the Press Union of Liberia has begun this observance by taking activities to other parts of the country. Among the reasons for the spread out of the observance is for communities in other parts of the country to understand the significance of a free press, as well as the rationale of working with media in support of community development and democracy. This year it is the term of Maryland County, the region south of the border with Ivory Coast. Maryland is also part of a large forest area difficult to access by the political and commercial hub of Monrovia. Bringing the celebration to this part of the country is intended to present some of the untold successes of the NGO Community, the Civil Society and Government have achieved unnoticed in the southeast.
In Liberia, for long time now the theme has been aligned with the Universal theme, and commemorated with appropriate activities in the country side. During this 2018, Liberia is at verge of completing a historic political transition with the conclusion in sight of the forming of Weah led administration. The new President, H.E. George M. Weah has tagged his government “Pro-poor”, pitching it to be concerned one day after another with livelihood issues such as healthcare, education, food and financial security etc.
To realize these, the Liberian Journalism Community in partnership with non-governmental organizations, civil society and the academia must tell the full Liberian Story which encompasses all the above stated fulcrums of governance. As part of the celebration of World Press Freedom Day, the Union will deploy reporters in Maryland, River Gee and nearby Grand Kru County to do stories on the state of education, health, food security, youth unemployment and infrastructures/roads among others. The World Press Freedom Day event, panel discussion will be held on the Low Southeastern Content in the Liberian Media during a special edition of Edward Wilmot Blyden Forum.
In keeping with the aforementioned, the 2018 World Press Freedom Day will be organized under the theme: “Deepening the Strives to Fully Report Liberia.”
In adopting this theme, we are informed by the facts that the stories of Liberia have not been told through the lenses of the ordinary people. In this respect, the Press Union of Liberia is using the celebration of WPFD with the People of Maryland County to turn the attention of development practitioners on the conditions of Liberians in this region of the country.
Calendar of Events
Sunday, April 29, 2018
7:00am Travel to Maryland
Monday, April 30, 2018
9:00am Field Trip (Grand Kru & Maryland Counties)
5:00pm Return to Harper
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
8:00am - Teams leave for various parts of Maryland & River Gee Counties
6:00pm Return to Harper
7:00pm - Dinner
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
8:00am - Breakfast
10am – National Media Council Awareness
2:00pm – Special Edition of the Edward Wilmot Blyden Forum
4:00pm – Sports Event (PUL vs County Officials & Staff (Male & Female)