Journalists covering the Executive Mansion have declared that they have grown increasingly concerned about the Presidential Press Secretary Office’s alleged deliberate action not to rotate reporters for presidential assignments.
Addressing a major news conference on Monday, May 16, 2022, the Executive Mansion Press Corps, headed by Denise Nimpson of Joy FM 101.5, accused the Press Secretary Office of being in the biased business of listing reporters of its choosing with the exception of state radio ELBC reporters.
“We were informed by the PPS Office that with the exception of reporters from ELBC, all reporters assigned at the Mansion will be listed rotationally for assignments, but on the contrary, only a handful of reporters out of the over twenty-five correspondents are listed.”
The Executive Mansion Press Corps sees such alleged act as a disservice to other hardworking and capable accredited reporters.
The group then called on the PPS office to do the right thing.
According to them, they expect the Press Secretary Office to know the shared-benefit and importance of rotating reporters.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, it is sad to note that since the accident of our colleagues three years ago, involving the President’s motorcade, the only vehicle inherited from the past administration was destroyed without replacement. It will sadden you to note that reporters were risked in dysfunctional vehicles during the county tour in 2021. Some had brick problems, and tire punchers on the road, least to talk about several mechanical faults putting journalists at risk.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, we have made several representations to that effect, and promises were made. As we speak, reporters at the mansion continue to suffer vehicle problems to provide coverage for the President. This sometimes causes delays in assignments and ineffectiveness,” the leadership of the Executive Mansion Press Corps stated.
The Executive Mansion reporters also claimed that they traveled with the President to Sasstown, Saclepia, Fissebu, Konbo, Yekepa, etc. but when it comes to foreign travels, they are deprived.
While EMPC members are limited, they said there is a selection of other non-assigned Executive Mansion reporters who have made those foreign trips.
The Executive Mansion reporters indicated that the poor remuneration, and empowerment of journalists across the country is not a secret, but stressed that they never allow such to deter them from providing the public with factual information.
“For this reason, rain or shine the reporters are with the President diligently providing coverage with the little resources and equipment they have. But the reporters were in awe when they received the news that President George Weah has empowered reporters with gadgets (iPhones and Samsung) that were called upon selectively to provide coverage for a day at the inspection of a rice warehouse in Vai Town. While we harbor no hate for that, the EMPC thinks that those who continue to provide coverage for the Presidency and did tirelessly during the county tour should be the ones empowered.”
They also called on the Presidential Press Secretary Office to encourage some other journalists who are forming a subset group at the Executive Mansion without being accredited to seek authorization and join the only constituted body, EMPC.
They want those who are found within the hierarchy of the presidency and encouraging such to kindly discontinue.
They called the attention of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) that there is a particular set of journalists that has decided to create tension by calling themselves independent journalists with the sole purpose to favor another.
The group emphasized that at no time have there been two groups of independent journalists covering the Executive Mansion. This, they said, won’t be tolerated.
They accused these ‘self-acclaimed independent journalists’ of causing embarrassment for independent and professional journalists from reputable institutions.
They further called on the Presidential Press Secretary and his Deputy to once again make the press bureau vibrant, as they do not want to ascribe to press releases. The reporters stated the need for the weekly press briefing to resume.
“It was a good initiative started by the bureau. The EMPC appeals to the office of the President to secure a space as a sub-office where assigned reporters can on a daily basis converge to provide adequate coverage for the Presidency.”
Meanwhile, they expressed optimism that this appeal will fall on fertile soil and claim the attention of the President because they know him to be a listening leader. Moreover, the Executive Mansion Press Corps has reaffirmed its commitment to continue its engagements with the office of the President through the Presidential Press Secretary’s office.
However, following the news conference by the aggrieved Executive Mansion reporters, Deputy Presidential Press Secretary Smith Toby has described as a disservice, the multiple but legitimate concerns raised by the leadership of the Executive Mansion Press Corps.
According to Toby, most of the issues highlighted by the reporters through its leadership were old issues they have been discussing off the camera and that they were reaching a melting point prior.
He expressed shock to have seen the EMPC leadership going public on those same age old issues.