By G. Bennie Bravo Johnson:
In an effort to extend the breadth of Liberian journalist reporting, the Female Journalist Association of Liberia (FeJA), with backing from the Liberian government, the United Nations, and the European Union, among others, wrapped up three days of training on gender-sensitive issues on April 27, 2022.
The workshop brought together editors from various media entities to be taught on gender-sensitive reporting in order to improve sexual and gender-based violence reporting by concentrating on protecting the identity of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence by rebranding them as survivors.
During the workshop’s conclusion, Ramon Zarbay, ECOWAS Radio’s news coordinator, warned journalists not only to raise awareness, but also to debunk myths and avoid judgmental language that may project the journalist’s emotions and present them as the source in order to avoid survival blame; and never to report details that put the survivor in danger.
He also recommended journalists to avoid placing pressure on the victim during the interview, whether from outside sources or the media, and to give the survivor an outline of the interview.
Mr. Zarbay warned journalists to avoid direct conversations with children and to avoid false concerns during interviews while laying out the guiding principles for the UN, NGO, and other survivor advocates. He also admonished journalists against sacrificing professionalism in their reporting.
Mrs. Carolyn Myers Zoduah, who spoke about the role of the media in covering sexual and gender-based violence and FGM, argued that in the battle for gender equality, there are unequal gender power relations in the media. Mrs. Zoduah urged journalists to think about power relations when pushing for information, in order to encourage open competition in newsrooms. At the same time, she called on the government to implement policy on sexual and gender based violence by highlighting SGBV and FGM programs in the national budget. She also admonished government to be more proactive in combating against SGBV and FGM not only by signing documents but be more combative in ensuring that the goals of signing those documents are met. She concluded by cautioning journalists to be agents of change through their writings