The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Indeed, To God Be The Glory: Reflecting On The PUL Award

By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

Last Friday was one of the important or historic day in my journalism life, as I was among many media practitioners that received one of awards of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) during its Annual Awards ceremony at the Paynesville Town Hall. The occasion was graced by the presence of President George Weah, Finance and Development Minister Samuel Tweah, Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee and information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, who himself is a member of the union.
The political leader of the opposition Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) Mr. Simeon Freeman, served as the guest speaker. However, this piece is not to do a story about the event, but a feature to reflect on the honor bestowed upon me by the union.
Although this is not my first time receiving honors from the union, I have received honors as “JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR” many times and also at one point I was listed in the HOUSE OF FAMNE” when “the late Abdullah K. Kamara headed the award committee; this time around, I see this honor, entitled: LIFE TIME ACHIEVER”, as a special one and, therefore, I have decided to do this piece to reflect on my past to serve as a motivation for upcoming journalists.
As I always said that I have all reasons to be grateful to God for His many blessings, considering from whence I cometh and where I am presently as Managing Editor of the INQUIRER Newspaper. Today, I remain the youngest Liberian journalist to have received one of the country’s National Honors as ‘”THE GRADE OF COMMANDER OF THE ORDER OF THE STAR OF AFRICA,” during the administration of Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who was then the GRAND MASTER.
In all fairness, it was not an easy journey from school days to the present. I recalled at one point while in elementary school, my parents could not afford the money for the prescribed uniform and so they purchased one that faded so soon. My aunt; may her soul rest in peace, who was a police officer, sometimes gave me her white police shirt to wear for school. For this, some of my friends mockingly called me, “police boy.”
One time because of the look of my uniform, my teacher put me before the class and made me a laughing stock. I was psychologically humiliated. But that did not deter me as I continued to attend classes until I graduated from elementary school as the DUX for the afternoon session and later moved to the D. Twe High School where I graduated in 1981 as the valedictorian.
It was at the D. Twe High School I was inspired or motivated to get into journalism after being honored by the then Vice Principal, Joseph Torbor, who was affectionately called by us “TORBORLISM” because he did not Spare The Rod”. Sometimes his bundle of keys helped him to enforce the rules. Madam Edina Doe-Sawor, who works at the American Embassy knows about this.
Upon graduation from the D. Twe High School, I started practicing at the weekly MIRROR newspaper, then edited by one Daniel Achompong. In May 1983 I joined the DAILY OBSERVER as a freelance reporter, responsible for New Kru Town. But later I added other areas like West Point, where I covered the then West Point Cooperative Society (WPC), then, headed by the late Frank Krahn. Two other members were Chon Davies and Mullah. When I joined the DAILY OBSERVER, it was all sacrificial because I wanted to learn the rudiments of mainstream journalism.
I did not receive any per diem like the reporters. Later, I started receiving enumerations from the stories I reported. I remained on that until I was recommended to be placed on monthly salary. “Senior journalist Sando Moore, who was then Photo Editor, was one of those who pushed for this because of my productivity. My desire to learn made me to stay longer in the office, observing how the paper was being produced.
And so one day when the opportunity came for someone to take care of the newsroom in the absence of editors, the late T-Max Teah and senior Editor, the late Stanton B. Peabody, I was asked to do so. The late Teah at the time went to Accra, Ghana for what was known as the ZONE THREE football tournament, while the late Peabody went to Namibia for its independence.
My first challenge came one night after completing the newspaper when the editorial staff left. I was faced with a decision of changing the front page when a group of women from Stephen Tolbert Estate protested the cause given for the death of one Esther Parker. Their protest was based on their disagreement with the autopsy report given by then Police Director Wilfred Clarke.
Knowing the importance of the story and seeing it as a “follow-up,” as we say in journalism, to the police report, I decided to replace the front page main headline with it. The next morning when the Managing Director, Kenneth Y. Best came to work, I was applauded for the editorial decision to changing the previous headline. Later Mr. Best took me to a place known as “KONO’s CORNER.”I can’t say much because it was a “ZOE BUSH” in that only those who entered there knew what took place there.
At the Daily Observer, I realized that if one is given a task, it is advantageous or beneficiary to go extra mile, as this would pave one’s way for greater things or to “higher heights”, ”just to borrow from the late President William R. Tolbert. Let me say based on my experience going the extra mile was never wasted; there would always be a time the opportunity would avail itself for preferment or one step above.
When I took over the newsroom of the Daily Observer in the mid 80’s, the first thing I did was to build a culture of teamwork and respect, realizing that this was the only way to succeed. I was aware that I met them and as such I needed their experience too.
To succeed, I created the atmosphere that all of them cooperatively worked with. There was no situation that “THE BOSS KNOWS ALL” because by doing so could have created indifferent attitude on the job, thereby undermining productivity.
By the grace of God and the cooperation of the staff, I remained in that position until the heat of the civil war when businesses in Monrovia ceased to operate for security reasons as the war was now advancing near Monrovia.
I have decided to do this piece because of the PUL Award of “LIFE TIME ACHIEVER” given me last Friday during its annual award program held at the Paynesville Town Hall. My point here is that if someone wants to succeed in a particular profession; humility, commitment, dedication, hard work and going the extra mile should always be the hallmarks to ascend to higher heights. Young people in this profession, should first qualify themselves, be ethical, be respectful and more importantly should be willing to learn from the older ones. They should not be complacent.
At the INQUIRER Newspaper after the civil war and as its first News Editor, I carried the same working spirit there, even, as its present Managing Editor the spirit of team work, humility and cooperation, something for which the paper today remains the only surviving post-war independent paper. When started January 15, 1991, as the first independent newspaper in Monrovia, there were many only independent newspaper, but today, it is only this paper that stood the test of time as it is still moving despite the chronic economic situation facing the nation.
Fortunately at The Inquirer, implementing its editorial policy was not difficult in that the pioneering staff chewed their teeth at the Daily Observer and had enough experience and idea in producing an independent newspaper. The Daily Observer is the first daily independent newspaper in the country that came to being after 1980 coup led by the then Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe.
Some of them were the late T-Max Teah, the first Managing Editor; Gabriel Williams, who is now at the Liberian Embassy in Washington D.C.; Roger Seton, now in the USA; Grody Dorbor, now in the USA; S. Togba Slewion, a professor at the United Methodist University; Sam Van Kesselly, at the Capitol Building and Gregory Stemn in the USA.
As I end this piece, let me dedicate it to the Daily Observer newspaper for making me what I am today, something I know contributed greatly for me receiving the award. Special thanks to Kenneth Y. Best for his discipline and also for being an antithesis of mediocrity. Moreover, I am indebted to him for inculcating in us the workaholic spirit that I am still practicing today. I recalled after Sunday services, he would stop at the office to do some work or see what was being done. Let me also thank his wife, Mrs. Best for being his fulcrum.
It would be unfair if I do not recognize some of those who helped me to be what I am today from the Daily Observer. They include the late T-Max Teah, the late Stanton Peabody; Isaac Thompson, who I am told is an international development economist; Manjlue Reeves and Joe Kappia.
Those in the newsroom included Maureen Sieh, William Burke, J. Burgess Carter, Harrison Jeudieh, alias, Black Baby,’ , Moizart Dennis, Arthur James, the late George Wandah, Gabriel Williams, the late John Vanbo, James Seitua, now in the USA who gave me a gift recently when I attended my daughter’s graduation in that country; Abdullah Dukuly, S. Togba Slewion (Margibi (County), J. Grody Dorbor (Grand Gedeh County), C.Y. kwanue (Nimba county); Edwin Fayiah (Lofa county), the late Attes Johnson (Bong county) and the late Kofa Jerboe (Maryland County.
God has been good to me through this profession because I had the opportunity to travel to some countries. I accompanied President Sirleaf to the dedicatory ceremony of the new headquarter of the African Union in Addis Abba, Ethiopia.
It was built by the Chinese Government, as well as the 2017 General Assembly of the United Nations. Besides I benefited from the USA International Visitor’s Program that took me to many States in the USA.
I also attended journalism fora in Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China, as well as a NEWSROOM MANAGEMENT forum at the American Press Institute (API) in Restore, Virginia. When Ecobank was about to open a branch in Liberia and needed a local journalist, I was recommended by the late Eugene Cooper of the Episcopal Church of Liberia who was a member of the board of the bank. That recommendation afforded me the opportunity to attend the bank’s annual meetings in some West African countries.
Again, God has been good to me over the years in the field of journalism, which I have come to realize is public service, but that social respectability counts.
I Rest My Case, while thanking the PUL for the

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