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

Not Merely A Title, But A Responsibility Madam Managing Editor, Winnie Jimmy

Monrovia, Liberia- On January 4, 2023, while browsing through my Facebook(fb) page, I read a post from Melissa Annan Chea, in which she congratulated her “sister”, Christiana Winnie Saywah Jimmy, on her appointment as Managing Editor of the Inquirer Newspaper. That post was followed by multiple comments of complementation to the newly appointee. Curiosity, being a part of journalism, I wanted to make sure of the authenticity of the source of what then appeared to be a “breaking news”. The electronic version of the appointment letter was flashed on the fb page of a colleague. No faked news and no fact checking required- Christiana Winnie Saywah Jimmy, appointed as the New Managing Editor of the Inquirer Newspaper, following the demise of Philip N. Wesseh (PNW- The Gina). The appointment was done by the Board of Advisors, under the signature of Mr. Gabriel I. H. Williams. It was there and then that I posted my initial congratulatory comments.

This time, I come back not to replicate the congratulatory messages lavished on the newly appointed ‘Madam Editor’, but to write a gentle reminder to her cautioning that her appointment is not a mere ‘title bearing show’ but a responsibility thrust upon her in a competing male-dominated media landscape. In Liberia, as I know it well, we(Liberians) are noted for using title most often, among other things, to shy away from the responsibilities for which the title was confer on us. We use title to step down on others in a condescending manner. We use title to break ranks with old time companions. And we use title to rob other colleagues of their entitlement. Be reminded that you are simply the arrow head, the direction pointer, but shares equal responsibility for the survival of the entity with all other professional colleagues. In a team, the steam of progress must be felt by all in a distributive manner.

‘Madam Editor, I’ve read and I’m well familiar with your profile. On all your achievements, I’m proud and humbled to be familiar with such a character. You have broken the jinx and it is my prediction that in Liberia, women voices will get stronger as time unfolds. I have absolutely no doubt about your credentials which led to your ascendency. But no! ‘Madam Editor’ in my settled consideration, it was just more than the achievements catalogued in your profile. When you are appointed, it means someone else or an institution (represented by an appointing power or individual) has found in you, (through proper vetting) qualities that match you to the office to which you have been called. Assumedly, the following qualities must have drawn the spotlight of the appointing power on. So from the vague of ignorance, I’m tempted to make the following guesses: First, could it be your personal deportment in conducting your affairs as a media practitioner over the years? Second, could it be your patience in waiting for the proper time for the proper thing to happen? Third, I’m just tempted to say, could it be your institutional consistency ground in tolerance, mindful that you were building a career ladder? Finally, could it be your incrementalized professional growth pattern from your humble beginning yesterday as a cadet up your soaring period today as a managing editor? But wait a little while, ‘Madam Editor’, like I have always cautioned my students, it’s time that you conceal those papers(credentials) and unveil your true yourself which must be performance based. Credentials are mere testimonies which by themselves don’t work. It’s the credentialist (the holder of the credential) that validates his/her credentials through exemplary works. This is why you are called- “to perform”. This is your moment, seize it. This is your battle, win it. This is your song; you have to sing it.

No, ‘Madam Editor’ it is not the time to prop your chest up in pride and trample on the collective will of the staffers at Inquirer under the guise as the “first female editor” of that noble entity. I’m constrained to invoke the kindness of history in reminding you that ‘Madam Editor’, you are not the first and only female editors (safe for the Inquirer). I thought to pay homage to some of your kind(females) who are your forerunners. Drink loftily from their fountain in humility.
In June of 2009, Ora Garway of the Punch Newspaper, a bi-weekly tabloid surfaced as a lone female editor making her voice heard among the male dominated voices in our media. On January 22, 2013, Helen Nah-Sammie, as Managing Editor and Publisher, hit the newsstand with the Women Voices Newspaper, dedicated to raising the voices of women and children. Apart from the print media, ‘Madam Editor’, your kind(females) are playing pivotal role in the dissemination of information through the broadcast/electronic medium. You can tap into their experiences because as Socrates puts it, they can pass the torch of enlightenment to you, only if you are humbled. Mrs. Estelle Liberty Kermoh serves as the Director General of the Liberia Broadcasting System(LBS), Ms. Eva Flomo, coordinates the ECOWAS Radio in Liberia and Ms. Tetee Karneh sits as the General Manager at Spoon 107.5 FM.

We are aware that in terms of the economics of the media, the environment is extremely harsh. Madam Editor, I’m simply saying that there is no room for excuse, complaint or complacency. One motivational writer notes that skillful pilots make fame during the greatest tempest. This is your moment, transform it for the best. You are called in a private capacity to serve a public good. Remain that metaphorical ‘watch dog’ of the society and don’t allow yourself to be turned into a ‘lap dog’ of the newsmakers through fraternization. This is your charge. Seize it and allow history to remember you for the best. Finally, as I salute you on your preferment as the First Female Managing Editor of the Inquirer Newspaper, let me remind you in the words of a Ghanaian theologian and motivational speaker, Mensa Otabil, “Opportunity in a life time, is seized in the life time of that opportunity.” In this case, the opportunity is yours to keep the legacy of your mentor and boss, PNW (RIP) alive. Managing Editor Christiana Saywah-Jimmy

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