By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
Last week, President George Manneh Weah by proclamation declared Thursday, November 5, 2020 as National Thanksgiving Day to be observed throughout the Republic as a National Holiday. The Proclamation called upon all Liberians and foreign residents, Priests, Imams, Bishops, Pastors, Clergies, and all religious organizations to gather in their various places of Worship and in keeping with prescribed COVID-19 health protocols, offer praise to the Almighty God so that He may continuously protect us as a people and Nation.
At the time, the Proclamation was in consonance with an Act of the National Legislature enacted in 1883 declaring the First Thursday in the Month of November of each year as National Thanksgiving Day. It stated that it is befitting that a day be set aside for the Nation and people to give thanks and adoration to the Lord for His dispensation of grace, mercy, and providence, as well as the perseverance of life.
According to the Proclamation, the people of the Republic of Liberia have always given thanks and praises to the Almighty God for His tender mercies and manifold blessings bestowed upon the Nation, especially for the continuous protection in times of peace, disaster, and other natural phenomena over the years.
As it is often said that “better late than never” is what I am involved in this piece to thank God for His many blessings over the years for the young persons I interacted with in the field of journalism for the past many years. I started reporting from high school and later joined the staff of the DAILY OBSERVER Newspaper as a cub reporter in May 1983. Later I rose to the position of NEWS EDITOR, a post I held until the civil war in 1990.
Whenever I refer to myself as a “rich journalist” many persons always refer to the issue of affluence,” to say it simple, ‘having plenty money” or being a person that is financially potent. Rightly so, those who think of richness of only referring to being in possession of money are not wrong in its real usage. But whenever I refer to this, I am only talking about my contributions in “manpower development in the field of “mainstream Journalism.” That is, the number of persons I have interacted with or imparted for my nearly 40 years’ experience in the profession, especially in the newsroom.
As we celebrated this day of THANKSGIVING, I am grateful to God for where he took me from and where I am today in mainstream journalism. My principal gratitude to God is all about the success stories of those I interacted with over the years in the newsroom.
When I speak of being ‘rich is not its lexicon meaning which says, “wealth, having high value or quality…” but I am referring to it figuratively to point out the success stories of some of those who I interacted with in the newsrooms of some newspaper, mainly the DAILY OBSERVER and THE INQUIRER. It is because of its figurative context for which I placed quotation marks on the word, “RICH,” thus giving it a different meaning and usage.
Admittedly, let me say that as news Editor of the Daily Observer, I was blessed to have many trained and professional editors. That, along with my determination to learn, helped to have a smooth ride. Some of them were the late T-Max Teah, the late Stanton Peabody, who introduced the “THE LEADS” system, where reporters were requested to strike three angles from a story; the late Willis Knuckles, Isaac Thompson, who was good at Human interest stories, who is now an international Development Economist; Mlanju Reeves, “the grammarian” and Joe Kappia then known as “The lead.” The “LEAD” in journalism is the first paragraph of a news story.
Let me not forget those in the newsroom. They included Gabriel I.H. Williams, who later became my boss at The inquirer; Abdullah Dukuly, James Seitua, now in the USA; J. Grody Dorbor, also in the USA; the late John Vambo, who has “nose for news;” Burgess Carter; Edwin Fayiah (Lofa County; C.Y. Kwanue (Nimba County)’ now in the USA; John Forkpa (Grand Bassa County); Koffa Jerboe (Maryland County) and the later Ephraim Johns (Sinoe County. Those in the Photo Department included Sando Moore, who now runs a magazine; Mozart Dennis, now with LINA, Arthur James and Gregory Stemn.
Let me also recognize others I worked with, either on internship or otherwise at the Daily Observerr. They are Frank Sainworla, a consultant and publisher; now Cllr. Mark Freeman, Bill Burke, an international media developer and Momo Kanneh, founding Editor of THE HERITAGE Newspaper, who I had a nickname for because of his penmanship.
My years of experience in the newsroom show that the “newsroom is the lifeblood” of any newspaper. That is, the newsroom is crucial to the successful running of any newspaper.
As the word, denotes “newspaper” which mainly indicates how important, credible and reliable news stories are to sustain the newspapers. I believe that it is from the kind of news that readership comes, to attract advertisers, to help boost the financial income of the newspaper.
It is because of the power of the newsroom, people who want to do business with the newspaper, would always seek information on the issue of “readership,” to determine whether or not to do business with such newspaper or not, in that the advertiser is also interested in wilder sale of its goods and services, as the greater the readership, the more the consumers of such services.
Conversely, if those in the newsroom lack this ability, obviously, this would not attract advertisers, thus affecting the income of the newspaper, something that would be detrimental to the smooth operation of any independent newspapers.
Today, as I belatedly do this Thanksgiving Day piece, I am elated to say that I feel so good for the many persons I interacted with in the newsroom, many of whom are making positive contributions to society in different spheres of life. Noticeably, some of them have even acquired high education (degrees).
Some of them are Dr. Josephus Moses Gray, Dean, University of Liberia and also a lecturer; S. Togba Slewion, a professor at the United Methodist University; Solo Kelgbeh, Presidential Press Secretary; Charles Crawford, now holds a Master’s degree; Maureen Sieh, international media consultant; Varney Sirleaf, Assistant IT Director, Liberia Institute of Public Administration (LIPA); Welma Blaye-Sampson, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Labor; Dr. Kimmie Weeks, Media Consultant, who once served as Independence Day Orator; Madam Massa Washington, who once serve as a commissioner on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC); Melissa Chea-Annan, who once serve as Vice President of the Press Union of Liberia and Raymond Zarbaye, ECOWAS Radio.
Others are ; Timothy Seaklon, Managing Editor, Independent Inquirer; the two brothers-Augustine and Michael Gebeh; J. Wesley Washington and Isaac Yeah, foreign service; Webster Cassell, Gender Ministry; Jennie Fallah-Wounuah, Advertising Manager, The Inquirer; Winnie Saywah-Jimmy, News Editor, The Inquirer; Charles Yates, publisher and talk show host; Boima J.V. Boima, Deputy Director General, Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS); Francis Pelenah, LBS; Rose Sauwas, Media Consultant and Heston Jackson, Media Consultant.
Also on the list of those I interacted with are Sidiki Trawaley, now with the West Africa Power Pool who bravely covered “The Fall of Gbarnga,” from Charles Taylor forces during the civil war; Michael Wah, student, Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia.
Thankfully, I am happy for the success stories of the many persons I interacted with in the newsrooms over the years and also filled with ecstasy for their roles in both the public and private sectors of society.
In closing I say a big thank you to Mr. Kenneth Best of the Daily Observer Newspaper for his training in media ethics and also for his installing in us the spirit of “Workaholism.”
To God be the glory.
I Rest My Case.