22 gen 2013

The Daily Talk describes a hopeful Liberia in the process of renewal

The Daily Talk is an English-language news medium published daily on a blackboard on Tubman Boulevard a main thoroughfare in the center of the Liberian capital Monrovia.
It is "the most widely read report" in Monrovia, a city where radios and televisions are luxuries most people cannot afford, and so many Monrovians lack the access to the conventional mass media.

The founder, managing editor and sole employee of the Daily Talk is Alfred J. Sirleaf, who founded his blackboard newspaper in 2000, in the middle of Liberia’s fourteen-year-long civil war, because of his belief that a well-informed citizenry is the key to the rebirth of Liberia after years of civil war. In post-war Liberia, Sirleaf sees access to information as the key to peace. He compiles his stories daily from newspaper reports and messages from volunteer correspondents. The Daily Talk is free to read and is funded by occasional gifts of cash and pre-paid cellphone cards. It even has its own suggestion box for readers and followers.

Once he has decided what he wants to post, he goes into a little shack he calls the “newsroom” and writes neatly on the blackboards, a meticulous process that can take a couple of hours. To reach those who cannot read, Sirleaf has devised a series of pictures and objects to symbolize the news, including a blue helmet for the UN and its peacekeeping force, a white handkerchief for Obama, and a hubcap for President Sirleaf, known as the Iron Lady of politics. In place of photographs he uses old campaign posters and other free handouts.

During the rule of Charles Taylor it was destroyed by government soldiers after The Daily Talk published criticism of the Taylor regime, and Sirleaf was briefly jailed, and he finally fled into "exile" in Ghana. When peace returned he arrived back and with help from his fellow Monrovians, Sirleaf rebuilt it a week before the 2005 election of president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (not a close relation) and resumed publication of the Daily Talk.
Today it is one of the most read News Sources in the capital with thousands everyday taking the time to stop as they walk or drive by to get the breaking news.

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