The Daily Talk – Liberia’s Blackboard Newspaper

The Daily Talk is a unique news medium published on a blackboard in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city. As most Liberians lack the money and means to access conventional mass media, this chalk-written daily “newspaper” is the most widely read report in Monrovia.

In the Western world, many are already talking about the death of written media, and the coming age of online information, but in some countries, access to old-fashion newspapers is still a thing of the future. Many Monrovians can’t afford to buy real newspapers or electricity to access the internet, so Alfred J. Sirleaf, the founder of this blackboard newspaper had to come up with a way to bring information to the people in an inexpensive way. He believes a well-informed people is the key to Liberia’s rebirth so ever since he started his unique venture  on Tubman Boulevard, in 2000, in central Monrovia, he’s been providing valuable news every single day. For local news, he relies on a team of volunteer reporters who come to him with stories, while for international events he goes to an internet cafe to access sites like the BBC, because he doesn’t own a computer. Then, in the newsroom, a small wooden shed attached to the back of his blackboard, he updates The Daily Talk with chalk. He’s the editor, the designer and sole employee of the unique newspaper, yet he manages to get his message across.

Photo: white african 

The Daily Talk was founded at the height of Liberia’s 14-year-long civil war, and because Alfred sometimes criticized ex-president Charles Taylor’s actions, the blackboard was destroyed several times, and the Liberian journalist even went into exile for a while. But he never gave up, and fought to keep Monrovia’s only source of news alive. Now that the war is over, Sirleaf is struggling to access the 25% of men and 60% of women who are literate. To this end, 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, a bottle of colored water for petrol, and a hubcap for President Sirleaf, known as the Iron Lady of Liberian politics.

Photo: white african

Funding is a vital issue for the survival of The Daily Talk blackboard newspaper, and even though it has been featured in prestigius publications like the New York Times and Christian Science Monitor, Alfred Sirleaf still relies on small donations and pre-paid cellphone cards to keep his chalk paper alive.


Sources: Wikipedia, Notes from Liberia

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