Knight International Journalism Fellowships

Liberia: Create Commercially Viable Radio Stations Using New Marketing Strategies


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Radio is the most popular source of news in post-conflict Liberia, but stations are struggling. Knight Fellow Luisa Handem Piette is developing business models that will lead to profitability.

Luisa Handem Piette is a Knight International Journalism Fellow who coached management at four independent newspapers and three radio stations in Liberia to become profitable. She started the Media and Business Sustainability Exchange (MBS), a monthly meeting that brings together Liberian media managers and other members of the business community, including the Liberia Chamber of Commerce. The goal: to help the news media attract clients and educate businesses on the value of buying ads in a country where most advertising still comes from the government and NGOs.

For World Press Freedom Day (May 3, 2012), Piette was the chief organizer of a four-day program in Monrovia that brought journalists and officials together from Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone to discuss the state of media freedom in the region. A main theme was journalism’s role in strengthening democracy through accountability.

In the early months of her fellowship, Piette prepared journalists to cover the October 2011 presidential elections. She focused on ethics and balance in the run up to the vote, won by incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize. Piette also produced a video that highlights her work with journalists during the elections and her efforts to build independent media – especially media by and for women.

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