Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon criticized Sierra Leone’s press and called for a better media in an article for Sierra Express Media, an “independent newspaper published in Sierra Leone and online.” (See his article here.)
Awoonor-Gordon claimed that Sierra Leone’s press is missing the big stories like “rising poverty level, unemployment, [and] corruption” and fails to do “simple investigative journalism.” He also called for Sierra Leone’s Association of Journalists to hold its journalists to journalism standards. He wrote:
“The media is therefore a significant and objective body and journalists are there to thoroughly investigate claims of abuses and other vices in society, like corruption, mismanagement and regulatory failures.”
According to the association’s website, its mission includes promoting journalism and its standards, supporting press freedom and press development and improving “the standards of journalism in Sierra Leone and in the enforcement of the code of practice for Journalists in Sierra Leone.”
We wrote to Awoonor-Gordon for more information. He told us by e-mail that he is “a Sierra Leonean based in the UK.” He noted that he has a journalism degree but doesn’t work as a full-time journalist.
We asked what prompted his article. In general, Awoonor-Gordno noted that “one thing I’ve been very passionate about is the state of governance in Africa and the role of the media. I guess this is why in the light of recent developments in my country, I’ve tried to make my little contribution into reawakening the social consciousness of the people and indeed the press.”
Specifically, he said his article “was written following the media’s worrying inability to take the initiative in a key story in which the Vice President was roped into a scandal in a documentary by Al-Jazeera. The tepid response to the issue coming on the heels of several other incidents was like a last straw. And like i said, this is election year and yet the political class and not the media is dictating the direction of things.”
Awoonor-Gordon added that he has been concerned with the role of politics in media and journalists’ “absolute disregard for the ethics of the profession.”
We have written to the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists for more information and will update with any response.