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Where are the Journalists?
By Abdul Fonti
Aug 19, 2009, 17:10
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There are different jobs in different countries in different parts of the world. All of these jobs have ethics or rules governing their operations, and everybody is expected to strictly adhere to the dictates of the ethics of the job one founds himself. These ethics can also be best described as Sacred Responsibilities in which employees or members of some organizations or administrations will have to swear an oath to uphold the sacred responsibilities of their jobs/institutions.

Depending on the job you are in to, your ethics cannot be uniformed with that of another. Upholding your job ethics can also led you into trampling to what others consider their "rights", as the popular saying goes: "Ones choice is anothers poison". Therefore, one is expected to be resolved to face the challenges in the discharge of duties.

This brings me to the real content of this piece. Journalism, as it is supposed to be, and as some of us are practicing, is tasked with the sacred responsibilities of investigating, compiling and publishing matters of public interest. Journalists are therefore charged with the responsibility of contributing towards national development, by investigating and exposing the excesses of our leaders and governments, so that corrective measures will be taken.

Also, our governments and leaders have pledged their love and loyalty in seeking the interests of the nation and its citizenry above all else. They are therefore obliged to uphold their sacred responsibilities.

The journalists have a very crucial role to play. They serve as intermediaries between the government and it people. This is what makes a journalist an ordinary man/woman with an extraordinary mission. Journalists are therefore obliged to inform the people about the operations of the government. They are expected to, without fear or favour, investigate and publish issues that hinge on national development and national unity, whilst our leaders are expected to behave within the confines of their sacred responsibilities, and in a manner that befits public officials.

In the execution of the duties of journalism, several media practitioners have been intimidated, beaten, harassed, molested, jailed, and even brutally killed. Yes, these are few among the numerous challenges journalists have been facing in upholding their sacred responsibilities. But could these challenges serve as a reason for journalists to neglect their responsibilities? I know the answer of any seasoned, focused and ethical journalist will be a big NO. Journalists must be ready to face these challenges. They must be always ready for molestations, imprisonment, death and banishment, yes, it is a must.

For some of us, we are resolved to practice this profession without fear or favour, as I have been a victim of the prices determined journalists have paid, long before I even entered the profession. My uncle, Paul Abu Mansaray, formerly of the Standard Times Newspaper, was brutally murdered by rebels in the discharge of his duties. So, why should I not practice my profession without allowing myself being intimidated, since I was au fait with the challenges of journalism, even before I started practicing as a journalist?

One thing I have learnt over the years is that of satisfying my conscience in everything I do. I am of the conviction that if the world fail to reward someone for doing the right thing, the good Lord who created heaven and earth will always do. Some of us have resolved to uphold our sacred responsibilities in every circumstance, same way the government is expected to uphold it responsibilities.

I therefore see nothing wrong in joining the fight of His Excellency the President for Sierra Leoneans to change their attitudes for national development. There is nothing wrong in telling an imposter to change her attitude, and maintain being who she really is. Exposing corrupt practices of government officials is no wrong thing to do. And making known to the people the flaws of a failing government is the noble thing a journalist could do.

The wrong thing a journalist will do is to praise sing an administration or government for things it deserves not. It would be absolutely wrong to make a ruling party believes that intimidating the opposition party is the best way to maintain the citadel of power. Posterity will never forgive a journalist who sweeps the truth under the carpet in the name of fear of being jailed, molested and killed. How can a country achieve its rebranding dreams when a government is left unchecked? How can Sierra Leone be rebranded if journalists allow their spirits to be dampened by the threats of a ruling government?

I want to believe we have freedom of expression in this country, so why not exercise our freedoms and change Sierra Leone for the better. Just a piece of advice to colleague journalists, if you call yourself a journalist and you are not prepared to face the challenges of the journalism profession, the best option is QUIT the profession, rather than allowing yourself to be seen as subjects of ridicule. I rather die a hero, than live as a coward. Therefore, its high time the journalists of this country started upholding the tenets of their profession and save this country from drowning. Where are the journalists? Where are they?

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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