By KABS KANU :
You can stage the most grandiose occasion , with all the pomp and pageantry imaginable, but unless there are the media to cover the story and bring it to the attention of the public, nobody will know about your program and there will also be no record of the occasion for future reference or purposes of nostalgia.
It is the media that construct reality . It is the media that construct or deconstruct what we come to know as NEWS. Without the media, occasions will be non-events because they have no significance or meaning until the media attach meanings to them . It is the media that give perspective to events.
Sierra Leone has been a trailblazer in journalism and mass communications. The first newspaper ever in West Africa was published in Sierra Leone in 1801 and it was known as the Sierra Leone Gazette . After the establishment of this pioneering newspaper in the sub-continent, Sierra Leone continued to dominate West African journalism through european settlers and in 1855, the first indigenous African newspaper in Sierra Leone and West Africa was established by William Drape. This paper was known as the New Dawn.
“Drape did not only set the tone and standard for journalism in West Africa, but also helped redefine government-press relationship during the 1850s and onward. His legal troubles with the colonial government set a major precedent in defining the limits of political power over newspapers, first in Sierra Leone, and then in the West African subregion “. Even the first English language broadcasting radio station in West Africa was established in Sierra Leone in 1934. (Read more: http://www.pressreference.com/Sa-Sw/Sierra-Leone.html#ixzz3haDLg48F ).
Despite such a rich history of firsts in journalism and mass communications, many modern day Sierra Leoneans do not seem to value the role and significance of the media. Whenever there is a civic or political gathering, Chairpersons, MCs and spokespersons and other speakers scramble to introduce and commend community members who played a role in making these programs successful, but no effort is ever made to introduce and commend journalists, whose extended previews and reports in their newspapers helped to publicize the event and contributed to the large attendance. This is very common among New Jerseyans . The media go all out to publicize their events but only one non-political man in the person of Alhaji Abdullah Savage has ever commended the press’ role publicly. The politicians do better . President Koroma loves and treasures the media. The APC officials in NJ recognize the media in many of their programs . Not so with other organizers of events. Journalists in Sierra Leone lodge the same complaints that their contributions are completely ignored during public functions when organizers are commending those who helped in one way or the other to make their programs successful. Imbeciles, rascals and rogues get recognized in public but never media men and women. Don’t these people know that without the media, nobody would have known about them and their events ? Don’t they know that even for people to contribute money to their events, without the publicity given to their organizations and events by the media, nobody would have given them a cent ?
What is most annoying is that political MCs , DJs and chairpersons would even go to great lengths to try to highlight the non- roles of activists who contributed nothing to the program while a journalist who must have spent sleepless nights building up interest in the occasion and who will spend further sleepless nights compiling the story and pictures and publishing them to give the event the public exposure it required, would be completely ignored. It is a sign of lack of appreciation and ungratefulness not to publicly recognize the contribution of journalists and newspapers while introducing and commending contributors to an event.
Why we need our efforts recognized is that publishing a newspaper is a very arduous , engaging and engrossing task. The information has to gathered at times under very difficult and inconvenient conditions. The journalist may have to cancel very important businesses of his own to attend the event. Nobody cares how he strained himself to be there, often under dangerous wintry conditions. While others are busy enjoying themselves at the program, the poor journalist is busy writing notes and recording the event.
These notes then have to be converted into news stories. Whereas others return home to blissful sleep after the event, the conscientious journalist has to stay up whole night to write the story to ensure that when people wake up the next day, they have a news story to read about the event. Then comes the even more difficult task of downloading and resizing the pictures and preparing them for addition to the story. Modern technology has not made that aspect of online journalism any easier. When the internet was first introduced , templates digitally resized photos automatically but today the work has to be done manually. There has been a regression in this department of online journalism . The photos at times are too many and would need to be carefully perused to ensure that none of the participants in the event are left out. The very Sierra Leoneans, who would not publicly commend the role played by journalists , would chasten the journalist when next they meet if, in his report, he did not publish pictures depicting them at the program. For a job for which they are not paying the journalist.
In all sincerity, it is not that some of these Sierra Leoneans consciously want to be ungrateful. The problem is that they do not understand the importance of the media. Their action is precipitated more by ignorance than an attempt to be ungrateful.
We thank God for the few Sierra Leoneans who understand our roles and appreciate what we are doing for our nation.
When I see contributors to the PATRIOTIC VANGUARD on the 10th anniversary of the newspaper writing to congratulate the Publisher, Mr. Gibril Gbanabome Koroma , I am delighted because it shows that there are Sierra Leoneans who understand and appreciate the role the media is playing to provide information and analyses of events . This demonstrates that all is not lost. There are Sierra Leoneans indeed who understand , appreciate and value the contribution being made by the media.
Grateful Sierra Leoneans and organizations have given us in the media awards and certificates of appreciation. We say thanks to them. These Sierra Leoneans know, understand and appreciate that the media have a powerful effect on human behavior, set the agenda for human perceptions and influence the public’s decisions to vote , support governments , contribute to causes or attend events etc etc . They understand that had it not been for the media , nobody outside halls and venues would have ever known about events.
We hope the Sierra Leoneans behaving like they do not understand the outstanding role the media is playing to inform, educate and entertain their readers will copy a page and fall in line. We do not need your money, but do justice to your conscience—-Acknowledge that if your event was successful, it was because of the publicity given by the media. And since this was so, do not leave out the media when you get up to recognize and thank all those who helped to make your event successful.