Monrovia - The media is crucial to adverting land dispute in Liberia, according the participants attending the national media conference on land held at the Monrovia City Hall on Friday.
Since the end of Liberia’s second civil war, Land dispute remains the conflict issue, with many saying could lead to another round of bloodletting in Liberia.
For now, many Liberians do not know or understand the Criminal Conveyance Law of land purchase in Liberia.
Many actors pushing for effective dissemination of information about land purchase or acquisition say the media must help to sensitize Liberians about the sector or the laws of land purchase in the country.
During the conference, Minster of Information Lenn Eugene Nagbe cautioned the Liberian media to seek the general interest of the society in a positive way, while calling on the media to not distance itself from societal issues.
Addressing reporters, Editors, Publishers and Station Managers as well as members of the civil society, the MICAT boss said, with all of the good development that has happened in Liberia it will not be impactful if the media role was overlooked.
Minister Nagbe: “It has to be a partnership with the media on one hand and the policy makers and implementer on the other.”
The one-day conference was organized by the Interim Land Task Force under the theme “Scale up reportage of good land governance”.
The conference highlighted the prospect, challenges and also focuses on strengthening the role of the media in reporting land issue in the country.
According to Minister Nagbe, after going through lots of support from various partners, particularly from the USAID, the government has captured and harmonized all of the land issues under one umbrella.
“This current situation that we are, where we have made lot of progress with land issue is a good beginning point for the media to play that critical role in serving its own social responsibility theory- developmental reporting.”
He added adding that due to the prevailing economic situation in the country journalists were not able to specialize. He called on reporters to report more about land issue.
“Where you will have education reporters, reporters for technology and perhaps particularly trained and assigned on land issue.
We will have to use this engagement, this symposium to highlight the capacity of the media to deal specifically with particular issue”, MICAT boss said.
According to the MICAT boss, the passage of the [Land Reform] Act “will be an incomplete matrix if people who are to benefit from land issues are not inform about the reform that has happen”.
He further noted that for the media needed tools to be able to properly report on land issues.
“Materials must be giving to the media to be able to adequately report,” said Minister Nagbe.
“Access to information is also another critical piece in the puzzle because if the media doesn’t have access to information to draw its own conclusion, the media will even become more critical, more suspicious and therefore not report as we want the media to report.”
USAID Mission Director to Liberia Dr. Anthony Chan said the act was a significant milestone for Liberia.
He said the passage of the Act, more effective land policy to modernizing Liberia’s land reform system.
“In the absence of sound land policy governance, land-related issues can often trigger serious issues in a post conflict country like Liberia.
Dr. Chan cautioned the administration of the Interim land Taskforce, which is responsible for resolving land issues in the country, to operate in a more fair and transparent way and reassured that USAID was committed to Liberia’s land reform agenda.
“Whatever we do the success of land reform in Liberia ultimately requires the public confidence in the reform process,” the USAID boss said.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the media, this is where you have a very important role to play; we cannot achieve public confidence in the reform process by providing accurate and timely reporting in the implementation of the land agenda…, and the important roe to foster peace and development for all Liberians.”
At the same time many media practitioners attending the conference called for a more effective collaboration between the media and the land reform sector.
Both the broadcast and print media journalist stressed the need for access to information in order to be adequately informing the public, something that could make the media sensitive to the audience in adverting land conflict.