By Gbatemah Senah
MONROVIA, Montserrado – The Daily Talk news booth in Sinkor resumed operation on Monday when it was formally relaunched by U.S. Ambassador Christine Elder.
The booth, conceived by Alfred Sirleaf during the Liberian civil war in 2000 to provide the public with credible daily news, was destroyed by an unknown vehicle two months ago and has since been closed to the public.
Internews, which is implementing the USAID-funded Liberia Media Development program, funded the reconstruction of the news booth. Unlike in the past, the booth is now covered with metal, with wood making up the inner coverings. [Disclosure: Internews is a funder of programs for The Bush Chicken.]
Elder, expressing her excitement over the return of the Daily Talk chalkboard, congratulated Internews for the support and praised Sirleaf for his effort in providing information to the public.
“You’re an iconic fixture of the main boulevard here in Liberia,” she said. “In our high-tech world, we can get very carried away with getting the news on our smartphones and all of that, but let’s not forget the basics. With humor and with creativity and ingenuity, you can bring the information to the people and that directly relates to a more informed citizenry.”
The U.S. ambassador said such a channel of communication can contribute to an informed citizenry, which also promotes a peaceful society by providing information on unfolding.
“If this needs to be rebuilt a hundred time, we will do it a hundred time,” she added.
Internews’ country director, Jan McArthur, said she was also excited that the relaunch of the Daily Talk news booth was taking place before the celebration of Christmas.
She said the Internews media development program was also aimed at supporting responsible and ethical media, and providing media access to ordinary citizens to share their views on issues.
According to her, a research conducted by USAID indicates that unlike other countries, freedom of speech is a universal value that all Liberians hold dear, something she said makes her love working in Liberia.
“I have worked in many countries in the world and there are not many countries where all citizens will tell you how freedom of speech is so important,” she noted.
Meanwhile, Sirleaf has praised the United States government and Internews for their efforts in restoring the lost hopes of his readers. He promised that the Daily Talk would be extended to other counties in the future.
“When the Daily Talk went down, hopes were lost, and I told people this hope will come back, and it will be more than before. Today, you can see,” he said.
Boston Lebbie, a regular reader of the Daily Talk, said he was happy that the news booth had been restored.
“I come here every time to read because when the government is doing good or bad thing, we can know from here,” Lebbie said in an interview.