The journalists have voted and we have a new executive that will mann the affairs of the organization for the next two years.
I was not present, but from all reports coming through it shows that the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists is coming off age and ready to build a better and quality organization that will stand the test of time.
The fourth Estate as we are called is a noble and respectable organization that have helped immensely in developing the world by ensuring that the people are educated, entertained and well informed of events.
We are all striving to be good journalists and serve our country in the best possible way. But in the last few years, journalists have turned around this noble profession for the worse.
Before I left Sierra Leone last year, most of the newspapers were at war on a daily basis. Instead of giving readers their money’s worth, they will be abusing themselves, blackmailing business men or smearing government and public officials.
This trend has continued until now, which has raised more questions than answers.
Do we want to continue in this path, I don’t think so? Does the Mass Communication School teach this type of nasty journalism, I don’t think so; what is the hope of this noble profession for the future?
Well the young journalists last Saturday answered the question that we need to change these negative practices by voting overwhelmingly for someone they think is unblemished and has enough credibility to lead the organization.
Following the elections from China, I knew the battle was between Philip Neville and Umaru Fofana. Not until Saturday was I able to read stories that placed Umaru as the favorite.
I was still not convinced taking into consideration that there was lots of money used in the campaign (courtesy of a story from Standard Times News) that would have great influence on the voters.
I thought of the SLFA elections that Nahim won because of monies that changed hands, but I later ruled it out at SLAJ as this organization has more square headed and respectful people than SLFA.
So when I got the results on Sunday morning (because of the eight hours time difference) that Umaru won the elections hands down then I knew it was a protest vote.
The present day journalists are tired with some of our older colleagues’ brand of journalism. Certain newspapers everyday are at war and even going to court, which does not augur well for us.
The journalism of blackmail, smearing, yellow and sensationalism cannot be tolerated in this 21st century because Sierra Leone now has a Mass Communication School where they teach and train students how to be good journalists and also the ethics of the profession.
There is always the challenge to see how these teachings are contradicted when one enters the mainline to start practicing.
So these young journalists voted for Umaru because they think he is a gentleman who practices what he preaches, whose credibility is unblemished, who can defend SLAJ anywhere at anytime and also can articulate well for the good of the organization.
To prove my point that it was a protest vote, all those who associated themselves with the dream team idea like John Masuba and David Tam Baryoh lost, not because they were inferior to their opponents, but because journalists don’t want any of them in the executive that has links with the so-called dream team.
I am sure that some members of the public, politicians and business people were happy too for Umaru’s victory as they too are tired with the negative journalism practiced by some of our older colleagues.
What SLAJ is looking for now is to win back its lost glory and credibility, so by bringing in Umaru, I am of the opinion that most journalists believe he will be able to take the organization to higher heights with more respect.
A good journalist seeks the truth and practices transparency as truthfulness is achieved by being fair, ethical and transparent.
Good journalists should always think of the public service rather than their interest. The quality of the newspapers, radio or TV goes down as you begin to serve other interests outside the larger human society. When we begin to serve the interests of business or politicians by sensationalizing news, then we are more of a sales man than a journalist.
A good journalist exerts effort to stay committed to the values of his profession. We need to establish a relationship and connection with the readers, viewers and listeners with our writings and pronouncements. The public should be able to find our writings worth their time.
These are some of the attributes that those who voted searched for in the candidates as they are tired of the negative ranting from the public that journalists are blackmailers, illiterates and destroyers of the country.
I do hope that this election will serve as a turning point for some of our older colleagues to change their perception and try to be more development oriented so as to make this noble profession respected and accepted to all and sundry.