MONROVIA-The press union of Liberia has made a strong commitment that moving forward, there will be a introduction of a prize for journalist who will report on issues affecting persons with disability (PWD) in Liberia.
The press union gives different awards annually to journalists who report on diverse issues or sectors.
Press Union President Charles Coffey disclosed the introduction of a slop for disability reporting; an award that is expected to form part of the union’s annual awards come 2022.
He made the commitment over the weekend at a one day media and society roundtable on people with disability organized by Internews Liberia in commemoration of international day of persons with disabilities under the theme: “amplifying the voices of people with disabilities to inclusion and participation.”
Coffey is of the strongest conviction that with the introduction of the disability reporting slot, it would divert more journalists focus to highlighting the plights and contribution of persons with disability in the country.
According to him, pwds are unique in society and are contributing immensely to the country, but nothing is said about the success and progress these community of people are making due to what he termed as lack of leadership at media institutions.
“If we will develop an award for journalists who are reporting on persons with disabilities that will be a motivating factor for more journalists to highlight the plight of pwds,” Coffey noted.
The PUL President further “Reporters in most cases become weak to highlight people with disability even if they preform national role because when the story land at the desk of the editors, said story is not prioritize. I think it is important that we begin to highlight disability stories in that way, people will be free to relate to them.”
He urged the media not to see pwds as less important, rather considered them in the environment thereby giving them equal access as non pwd which can be done when the media begin to highlight the successes and progress pwds are making, challenges and state actors responsible to develop the potential of pwd to change the condition.
At the same time, Peter Flomo, first Vice President of the National Union of Organization of Persons with Disability in Liberia wants the press union of Liberia adopt a menu to ensure the inclusion of pwd in the media programs to reduce high discrimination against these minority group.
In addition, Flomo stressed the need to establish a disability desk at every media institution that will help in the effort of amplifying the voices of pwds and the positive impact and contributions to the society.
He said the media should be open up to persons with disabilities, in this way it will change the narrative noting “There should be a slot given to persons with disability to execute their excellent duty within the length and breadth of Liberia.”
He holds the view that pwd should have a primary idea in media related work when this is done he foresees a inclusive media free society in which there will be mainstreaming disability issues.
Pleaded with Internews Liberia to have the union involve in its activities because when headquarters gets involved, they will go with one goal to fight for the rights of persons with disability.