On Tuesday, February 8, 2011, we published a frontpage lead story headlined: Presidential Aspirant on the Run. In that story, we reported that one of Liberia’s many presidential aspirants; the Rev. Kennedy Sandy was shying away from a number of vendors for an amount of money he owed them. Of course, like any other politician or public servant, our publication did not go down well with Rev. Sandy, and so, on Wednesday, February 9, The New Dawn was invited to a meeting at a local hotel in Sinkor to discuss the matter.
As any sound and well established editor would expect, threats, condemnations and branding characterized the February 9 discussions chaired by a former Director of Press at the House of Representatives and an official of the General Auditing Commission, James Jensen, who also claimed to be a top executive of the Freedom Alliance Party of Rev. Kennedy Sandy. That did not, however, deter us at the highest level of this paper, as our primary reason was to honor the invitation as a way of fostering the media relations necessary to enhance our developing democracy in Liberia and not to do otherwise.
“The story about Presidential Aspirant Kennedy Sandy being indebted to a ‘cooked bowl woman’ and some ‘pen-pen’ riders was mere fabrication intended to damage the image of a reputable man who has made numerous sacrifices to schools, fed and lodge Liberians here and abroad,” were the words of Mr. Jensen and Mrs. Sandy, both executives of the technical team of the Rev. Kennedy Sandy Campaign Team in reaction to our publication after we sought clarity on the transaction.
“If people had interacted with those mentioned in your story on behalf of Rev. Sandy, you should not have attributed such allegations to him as a person. You should have done your story on the people who received the cash to act on behalf of Rev. Kennedy Sandy,” they further clarified.
In consonance with our own professional obligation as well as our expressed interest to members of the technical committee of the Kennedy Sandy for President team in publishing their clarifications, we lifted a front page story on Thursday, February 10 headlined: “Cooked Bowl Not True, Pen-pen Not True,” with all of their exact negative comments and reactions against this paper from the February 9 meeting, just as we’ve done to a few others.
But in contravention of the understanding reached (for The New Dawn to publish their clarifications as per the discussions instead of a written reaction), Mr. James Jensen and his Sandy for President technical team chose to embark on an undue publicity for themselves, using a little-known character referred to as Director of Press and Propaganda (Anthony Williams) with no experience and knowledge in press matters or media relations to repeat the negative utterances of his so-called ‘bosses’ at the start of the February 9 discussions on a few radio and television stations, including Truth F.M and Real TV which failed to even contact The New Dawn due to the controversial nature of the young man’s information.
We must emphatically repeat here that we had not gone to the call of Rev. Kennedy Sandy’s campaign team out of fear or sympathy, but mutual respect as a way of promoting democratic values, in accordance with our desire to take Liberian Journalism to another level.
While Rev. Kennedy Sandy may have a lot of ‘cash’ (as we are told), and that every “hustler’ may want to capitalize on such wealth to be mischievous so as to benefit from such, let it be made clear that we at The New Dawn will fear nothing, but to do wrong.
We are aware that with the Liberian political season in full swing, unscrupulous individuals like the few “con men” calling themselves executives of the Kennedy Sandy for President Campaign, will always want to exploit the political ignorance of people who want to be president, senators or representatives in the general and presidential elections in October or November this year, but are not familiar with contemporary Liberian politics, to amass wealth because this is the only time, they feel, to do so.
With such agenda, they persistently ill-advise and mislead these politicians to their own political detriment. Of what political and media relations assistance can James Jensen of the GAC, Paul Bodo of ELBC. Boston Davies (otherwise known as ‘Thirty-Eight”). Anthony Williams and others be to Rev. Kennedy Sandy who wants to be President of Liberia amid such a very “stormy political wealthier” in Liberia? Again, we understand that politicians always befriend false impressionists and liars of no impact-making credentials.
But to those who harbor the belief that mischief against The New Dawn is the only way to pacify their political godfathers, may we assure you of our preparedness, ability and whatsoever professional means available to swiftly and intellectually respond to any and all attempts to mortgage our hard-earned reputation for the past one year as an institution. May we also express our preparedness to work with all institutions and individuals who are very, very far from selfishness and have at the core of their political and other agendas, LIBERIA.
In fostering such collaboration, we promise to ensure respect and all of the principles of good journalism as we have done for the past year. In such relationship, we also emphasize the need for mutual respect as we all work towards the enhancement of democracy, most especially as we go to elections this year and national growth and development.