The media profession from time to time has been described as one of the greatest instruments in human history. The profession provides the needed space for the voice of everyone to heard. This simply suggests that journalism will continue to pave the way for people in democratic societies to be heard, whether weak, strong, poor, physically or financially challenged or not.
This is why scholars in journalism strongly believe that society is best served when space is provided for ideas, both opposing and coherent ones to be exchanged on the market of intellectualism- therefore the importance of professional journalism in these technologically advancing and competitive days of our human existence.
As a notable vehicle driving the ideas and views of people through, journalism must not therefore make any mistake to bury ethical standards to appease anybody for any reason.
Unless those of us who call ourselves journalists live up to professionalism or ethical standards, we will be subjects of unnecessary public criticism to the extent that society may begin to number our woes rather than the needed respect due us as media practitioners.
NOW THE ISSUE:
I find it very expedient to comment on the trend taken by the July 7, 2012 Edition of the ELBC Radio Talk Show titled: Meet the Press. Before going further, let me first of all commend the hosts of the program, Reporters Titus Tokpa and Marlon Johnson for coming up with such an idea, which, in my opinion, has been serving as an instrument to gauge public views on some of the issues interplaying our individual and collectives lives as Liberians.
However, I was taken aback when the guest of the program, LBS former Editorial Consultant, Mr. Hassan Kiawu sought the opportunity to descend on me through false, envious and unfriendly comments. During the talk show, Mr. Kiawu alleged that my colleague, Ferricks Dainsee and I are not giving ‘maximum coverage’ to the Presidency. The LBS former Editorial Consultant did not stop there but equally went ahead by accusing the two of us of being in a political fight, perhaps for popularity on the assignment.
On that fateful day I was heading for LBS for the ongoing month-long TV training for LBS staff and was not actually monitoring not until when I started receiving calls from some relatives, friends and sympathizers. When I asked the driver of the taxi on which I was riding to tune in to ELBC, Mr. Kiawu was like trying to restate his comments against me without any remorse.
Thanks to the Acting Director General of LBS, Mrs. Hattie Hunder for moving in swiftly to disorganize the talk show, apparently taking note of the trend it was then taking- personal attack on me in particular.
The issue at bar is that the two hosts of the talk show did not also do justice to the two of us covering the Executive Mansion as correspondents as far as good journalism is concerned. If at all the focus of the talk show was to discuss and evaluate our performance on the assignment, I think Marlon and Titus were under professional obligation to extend us invitation. From the bottom of my heart, I am leaving it with their conscious because I believe that one day the motive of the talk show will be brought to light.
‘POOR COVERAGE OF PRESIDENT SIRLEAF’S OFFICE’
I am seizing this opportunity to let Hassan know that his comments are far from the reality, based on malice against me in particular, envious and reckless in nature. I think my former Editorial Consultant who once announced returning from the United States of America with an MA in journalism does not understand how stories are gathered at the level of the Presidency.
To reflect a bit, as soon as I was assigned to the Executive in March 2011, the President was already engaged with the inspection and dedication of projects across the country and I challenge you to prove me wrong as to who was always sending in reports from around Liberia during the period under review. The moment President Sirleaf concluded the inspection and dedication of projects we entered the political season- campaign /elections. Again, I challenge you to prove me wrong if I was not actively covering these events extensively from across Liberia. Mr. former Editorial Consultant, you were still with us when I was asked to pick up assignment at the Mansion in March 2011 with nothing like a small lap top to help make my work easier when other colleagues covering similar tough assignment with the other branches of government were immediately issued lap tops. I made requests and follow- ups for a lap top but it did not work and up to now I challenge you to prove me wrong. The Executive Mansion is a very busy and tough assignment as on certain days, we run from one program to the other without resting. Equally, there are certain days I can’t get news from there because not all the programs are opened to the press. In this case, I go elsewhere to find the news so that ELBC Radio eats the kind of food it survives on-news, just like any other media institution.
If your thinking is that I should manufacture stories to appease you or if this is the kind of journalism you believe in then I ask that we hire the services of an MCC truck to escort your media credentials from the US into the Du River.
The reason is because to make up things or for any journalist to publish what in reality did not happen or what he did not see borders on nothing other than evil journalism which, in my opinion is tantamount to criminality.
On many days I spend hours to find a commercial car to get back to base to ensure timely reportage of events happening at the Executive Mansion. There are times I risk my life to ride on a motor cycle from the Mansion or use my own units to file in reports when I am pressed against the wall by time. The case of my colleague Ferricks is a bit different because he has his own car.
When you were here, did you ever proffer any good idea concerning helping to ease the tension associated with my assignment in terms of logistics to ensure ‘maximum coverage’?
Did not you, on several days bury some of the good stories I wrote from the very Executive Mansion to undermine my efforts or create the impression that I was not performing up to expectation? For instance, if during one package you buried my story and allowed all the stories brought in by a reporter with whom you try to build good rapport to be used based on your poor editorial advice, what signals are you logically sending out there concerning my performance?
But I tell you, despite all of these challenges, I have made positive marks on the assignment and the records are still available.
For your information, I was not quite one year old on the assignment when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recognized my efforts. And as soon as you and other envious minds heard this good news about me your heart started and still keeps pumping blood beyond human imagination each time you see me rather than seeing such recognition as a pride to all of us at LBS.
But in the name of Jesus Christ, I will shine anywhere I go and be mindful before you develop high blood pressure one day. It is unfortunate that during the talk show you praised our colleagues who are covering the National Legislature and passed unfair judgment against the two of us covering the Presidency without taking certain factors into consideration. At the National Legislature, there are sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays and a lot of issues constituting news come on the floor. Besides, there are more than 75 law makers and nearly on a daily basis they comment on various issues that equally constitute news. Because a lot of things happen at the National Legislature on a daily basis, it is almost like the news is chasing our two colleagues from LBS who are assigned there rather than they chasing the news.
For your reminder, before former Presidential Press Secretary, Mr. Cyrus Wleh Badio could leave, he once introduced all the journalists who are assigned to the Mansion to the President. We were more than twenty five and I was the final person. The moment Mr. Badio said ‘’We also have Jacob Parley and Jacob is from ELBC,” President Johnson Sirleaf nodded her head in a positive way and said: ‘’Yes, I think I always see this young man covering our programs.” Now this does not mean that the other colleagues from other media institutions are not productive, but I think the President knew them long ago since some of them had stayed on the assignment for several years before my going there.
But for some of you, since no cash or material thing was given me makes the recognition to have no value in it. But I am different from you because what I strongly believe is that good name is better than silver and gold. I am not saying I accepted to assignment purposely to be known by President Sirleaf, neither am I saying since she’s getting to know that I am hard working, I should put the white chicken situation into motion like some of you believe in doing. But what I can proudly say is that such recognition has in fact placed much pressure on me to work harder and this is what I am still going for with focus which envious tongues like you are now rising up against me through constant castigation and character assassination.
But again, I am not surprised to some extent, the fact that I am a potential person as demonstrated in all the places I have worked in my life.
‘JACOB AND FERRICKS FIGHTING ON THE ASSIGNMENT’
Mr. former Editorial Consultant, stop spreading lies about me to cause harm to my reputation. In my life I do not fight for positions and titles because the Bible says promotion comes from nowhere but above. Were you not one of those who suggested that I be sent to the Executive Mansion as correspondent? Did I beg you to send me there or was it a decision reached by management based on recommendations? It does not make any sense for me to be fighting because there is a saying that experienced player does not fight for jersey. The only form of fighting I do at times, which of course is unique to the work of every journalist is to chase the news in the midst of difficulties because there are times a journalist is pulled from end to another while going after the news. If you still think that there is a fight, please go and find out as to which of the two ELBC reporters assigned at the Mansion has been running from office to office telling people: ‘’You must not call him again because they finished withdrawing him from the Mansion.’’ Yes , I am a potential person this is why everywhere you send me I will shine and make those who may be sleeping to get up and begin a very serious race as soon as they start to realize that I am passing by them positively through my performance.
My dear former Editorial Consultant, I don’t fight for positions in the way others here do by running from office to office castigating their friends and begging where they should be assigned.
Check the defunct Vanguard Newspaper, Plain Talk, Heritage (freelance) , the United Methodist School System, where I became Vice Principal, Principal and won several awards, including PRINCIPAL OF THE DECADE and was elected Assistant Secretary General of the United Methodist Principals Association, the United Methodist University where I served as the first interim student leader; where I also received the MERITORIOUS AWARD in 2004, including my stay at LBS from 1998 to present, etc. You may not know that when you beg for positions or assignments people will not respect you because you send out the signal that your are as academically worthless as a piece of paper or chicken feather.
Now this does not mean when I see an opening somewhere I can’t go for it, especially when I know that I am qualified to apply. But I am totally opposed to the uncivilized or devilish manner in which you and your likes run around in your inordinate desire to occupy positions which others are already in. In science, two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time so when you have a situation where somebody at all cost wants to sit in a seat another person is already in by management decision, that person is a son of the devil. My argument is simply because the devil lacks patience, does not wait for appointed time, believes in undermining others to make them unpopular, very envious and feels hurt when God’s chosen ones are progressing, etc.
PROBABLE REASONS FOR HASSN’S CONSTANT ATTACKS ON JACOB PARLEY
In 2011, the Management of LBS hired Hassan’s services as Editorial Consultant, during the period under I was serving as Editor-In-Chief. During one of our productions which coincided with Mr. Kiawu’s first official duty in the newsroom, we had a format for News Hour presentation. Mr. Kiawu refused to listen to my advice as someone he met on the ground, especially when the advice was in line with established editorial policies. He chose to do what he wanted to do and wasted a lot of time to prepare for the news. By the time he entered the news cubical, it was almost on top the hour. He made several mistakes and spoiled the entire production.
When he sensed that veteran broadcast journalists Ledgerhood Rennie, Deputy Director General for Media Services was awaiting him for post mouthing, he quickly ran to management and indicted the entire team. Our chief took up issues with us. But when Mr. Rennie landed, I was the only person in the newsroom of 32 persons who told Hassan in the face that he caused all of us the problem. And I gave my reasons. Besides I even told Mr. Kaiwu that even if the mistake came from the editorial team, was it administratively prudent to have taken the first mistake on his first day of official assignment in the newsroom to top management as a protest?
He felt embarrassed by the question. There was another time in the same 2011 when Hassan was preparing to present the news. He had, as one of his headlines a story in which a prominent Liberian was calling an African leader a dictator and urging citizens of that country to go ahead to get that president out of power.
Upon seeing the story I sincerely advised that we should not carry such story, because it was not friendly in terms of diplomacy, especially when that country had its embassy near Monrovia. Our former Editorial Consultant refused to listen and was poised to carry that story despite my professional advice. So I sought the intervention of Ms. Ivy Fairley, then Director of News. When I repeated myself, Ms. Fairley told Hassan that he needed to listen to my opinion as a journalist who was studying diplomacy. Ms. Fairley therefore removed the story from the news file despite Mr. Kiawu’s bitterness. Our former Editorial Consultant realized that he lost his face in that professional argument again and since that time he started to see me as a potential threat and started a childish campaign to always say negative things about me. There are people who can attest to this and I know that some of them who are bold and truthful will one day say it.
Besides, he was leaving consultancy to the performing of administrative work in the newsroom, I equally disagreed with him on several professional fronts that he was trying to usurp my functions as Editor-In-Chief. Most of my colleagues could not understand my point not until six months later when I was removed from the editorial team.
He tried to do similar thing to Ms. Ivy Fairley after I left and was placed in his shell by Ivy. I left the editorial team but the former Editorial Consultant saw me as one whose stance exposed him. He did not recover from the intellectual whips of my boldness and wisdom up to the time his services were terminated by management recently- therefore his constant verbal attacks and castigation.
But I want to tell Hassan and any other person who may be in cohort with him to desist from making envious, damaging and false comments against me because we are living in a dangerous world today. You wanted my premature exit from the editorial team and today I am not there. You were part of plans that sent me to the Executive Mansion as correspondent and I accepted the assignment in good faith. Today good news is coming out of the assignment due to my patience, diligence and orderly conduct, you have again, perhaps , with the backing of some elements around here are designing other uncivilized strategies to get at me.
I have been with LBS since 1998 and always try to keep myself out of noise by focusing on my work but I think the time has come for me to do what I am doing so that the Liberian people may have a clearer idea on some of the things, which in my opinion, are hampering peace, unity and progress at LBS. And two of those things are resentment and disunity. Let me close by borrowing from our Yannah boys –MOVE YOUR MOUTH FROM ON ME. And please remember that I will not revenge in any ungodly fashion for vengeance belongs to God and the very God is watching you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jacob Parley is a 2011 graduate of the Foreign Service Institute, He has worked extensively in the Liberian media for more than a decade, occupying several positions, including Vice President of the PUL, News Editor, News Director, Editor-In- Chief (twice), Sub-Editor LBS, Secretary General LBS Workers’ Union. Jacob holds a BBA in Management and Economics from the UMU and several certificates in journalism, including two from the People’s Republic of China.
The author served as the first interim student leader at the United Methodist University and has written several articles in key local dailies, including One Year Covering the Executive Mansion: Lessons, Challenges and Prospects, the Liberian Media: Ethics, Ownership and Challenges, Media Gate Keeping At A State-Owned Broadcast Entity: Advantages and Disadvantages, etc.
He also draws his experience from the classroom and a school administrator and first student leader at the United Methodist University.