READING THE NEWS Public Trust, a Liberian online daily, I took interest in the clarion call placed for older journalists to return to journalism. This call is important and the idea is surely useful for other professionals—teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, lawyers, etc. For a country still struggling because it is saddled with underdeveloped and postwar conditions, there couldn’t be a better call. A cross-fertilization of ideas between new professionals and old professionals is germane to national development. But such a fertilization is unachievable if the old ones either detach themselves or are repudiated by the new ones.
THIS CALL IS at the heart of seasoned journalism, which ought to disseminate information judiciously for the advancing of society. I couldn’t agree more with the need for the old and new to walk and work together. Journalism is immensely critical in helping to guide a nation such as Liberia. New journalists engaging with old journalists leads to the understanding of the phenomenon called news, the place of integrity in gathering and disseminating news, the place of critical thinking, the place of personal integrity, and the place of self-awareness and self-esteem. Without professional and personal integrity, without critical thinking skills, without a thorough understanding of oneself, an individual is not a professional but a quack.
THIS RE-INVITATION OF old journalists, and the urging that they work together with new journalists, can establish a productive atmosphere. In such atmosphere, young achievers will remain grounded, so that they don’t develop a false sense of self-importance for whatever few steps they take at a time. In such atmosphere, young achievers will not run with every conceivable idea and treat it as gold. All bright objects aren’t gold. Wrestling with each emerging idea, both new and old journalists will transform that idea into something very purposeful and therefore meaningful.
TOGETHER, THESE new and old journalists will also understand the purpose and the need for the continuity of history. After all, journalists constitute an essential swathe of the antiquarians of society. Society looks to them for who did what, when, where, why, and how. Thus, together, this amalgam of journalists can work their hardest to create not only impressive news articles, but also books, videos, and all other outlets that convey the collective memory of society. Such outlets then become the fertile reservoir for active and sound public opinion, sound public policies and the laws to go along. Indeed, such outlets can eventually evolve a meaningful and clearer national vision and the accompanying mission statement.
NO NATION ENJOYS massive growth and development without understanding and making copious use of its collective memory– that is, the historical moments and events with which a nation or group identifies. Such historical moments and events enhance the sense of togetherness, making nationals or group members agree: “We are really in the same boat together.” The death of William Tubman–Liberia’s longest ruling president–the April 14 rice riot, the military coup, the civil war, the Ebola epidemic, etc. constitute a few examples of collective history imprinted on the minds of most Liberians; they constitute examples of collective memory of the Liberian experience. Some of these moments and events surely constitute the warning of things leaders and ordinary citizens, working together, ought to avoid for the common good of society.
SO YES—THE clarion call for an amalgam of journalists, young and old, is truly important. If that amalgam is absent in a country such as Liberia, critical thinking skills, integrity, self-awareness, and self-esteem become very contaminated. Worse still, an elevated sense of self-importance soon sets in, becoming a virus. In Liberia, such a virus is making rounds; it needs a cure.