10 Oct 2014

The Daily Talk: keeping Monrovia in the know

While the world monitors the Ebola outbreak on websites and TV bulletins, locals at the epicentre of the crisis in Liberia receive their news differently: on a blackboard operating out of a shack.

Operating out of a plywood shack on a run-down roadside in the capital Monrovia, The Daily Talk has become an established news source for thousands of impoverished Liberians.

In recent months as the Ebola crisis has gripped the country, the Daily Talk’s centre board has featured one story.

And little wonder. Liberia has recorded 2,200 deaths from Ebola, more than half of the 3,865 total so far. Such is the scale of the crisis that Liberia has suspended senatorial elections next week.

The Daily Talk has made its views clear. “Ellen surrendered finally to Ebola after declaring war,” the latest edition (photographed) reads. “Government unable to fight as citizens, NGOs and others call on International community.”

Keeping score

Many Monrovians that missed out on education from years of civil war cannot read. The board’s founder Alfred Sirleaf has traditionally helped his stories with props. In 2006 for example helmets were hung up on the outside of his “newsroom” if a story is run on a UN peacekeeping force entering the country.

And on Ebola a football scorecard system has been used, keeping score of the government’s effort to combat the virus.

It was very clear who was winning in the last photographed edition: “Government: 2,” it said. “Ebola: 10”