Mass communication students are always taught to run away from yellow journalism. Media managers who often double as instructors of mass communication courses always drill aspiring journalists about the need to eschew bad journalism. But despite the tons of advice from mass communication experts, yellow journalism continues to thrive unabated especially so in impoverished environments where media houses themselves must make up stories to fatten their purses.
This week’s episode is a sordidly classic case of how a few respectable members of the inky fraternity here are willing to bend the rules just to make quick bucks.
On Wednesday, November 8, 2016, not one but three leading dailies ran pulsating headliners indicating that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had summoned former Finance and Development Planning Minister to account for European Union’s financial assistance to Liberia.
The reports seemed factual because the alleged culprit, Amara Konneh, is expected to be in Liberia shortly for vacation from his hectic World Bank assignment. So the cooked up stories made gullible people to believe that Amara Konneh’s visit to Liberia is really because the president summoned him to answer questions, and not to spend time with kiths and kin.
As usual, the Executive Mansion was quick to respond, terming the reports as “totally false and misleading; as there is no on-going investigation or audit concerning EU support that involves the Government of Liberia.”
The Executive Mansion statement also said the reports are purely imaginary; lacking all elements of truth-telling and professionalism.
What further corroborates the Executive Mansion rebuttal is an instant response also from the European Union, which indicated that the EU “has not requested an audit of the budget support previously provided to the health sector and nor has it placed a hold on future assistance to Liberia,” quite contrary to what was carried by the local media.
This paper has conducted thorough background check about the source of the propaganda piece dished out to the respective media outlets. It is crystal clear from simple forensic journalistic gatherings that all of the reports emanated from a single source.
It is also clear that the reports were highly political and centered on conflicted paranoia from certain quarters, who believe that Amara Konneh poses serious threats to the political survivability of their principal agent.
With the 2017 presidential and legislative elections looking us right in the eyeballs, it behooves us the media to be very careful not to stoke or inflame sentiments that are detrimental to the sustenance of the hard-won gains from 2003 to now.
Despite our various political, tribal, ethnic and social cleavages, we all belong to one banana tree. Liberia is our one denominator.