Former President of Liberian Journalists Accused Of Practicing "Yellow Journalism"


By Josephus Moses Gray

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

October 13, 2004

A group of Liberian intellectuals schooled in various professional disciplines including journalism, human rights, political Science, international relations and diplomacy, legal system, religion, accounting, economic, medical field and sports, has accused the former president of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Mr. James Kaizolu, of practicing the highest form of what they termed as "Yellow Journalism". In a press statement issued in Monrovia on October 7 under the signatures of Albert K. Jaja Assistant Secretary-general for Press and Propaganda and Wind ell Miller, acting Secretary - General of the Association of Liberian Intellectual (ALI), copy which
they served The Perspective in Monrovia, ALI lambasted Mr. Kiazolu.

The group said in the statement that it was taking issue with the front page lead story "Conteh Takes Case to the Streets" of the Monday October 4, volume 1. No. 42 Edition of the Liberian Express Newspaper, describing it as Yellow Journalism and blatant disregard of the truth.

ALI wondered why the Express Newspaper deliberately ignored all of the many issues raised by Dr. Al- Hassan Conteh, President designate to the University of Liberia during his deliberation on Saturday, October 2, but only devoted its front page to demean and castigate the good intent of the Association and highly respected members many of whom are professional Journalists, aspiring lawyers, and others of repute.

The Association said the Express Newspaper, published and edited by former PUL President James Kiazolu, vividly demonstrated the increasing level of unprofessionalism that is
attempting to roll back the progress of press freedom in post-war Liberia.

The group said it believed that Dr. Conteh's appearance on Saturday, proved his resolve to provide his version of the University of Liberia presidency issue to an interested public and not a mere street appearance as claimed and insinuated by the paper.

The statement said "the Association of Liberian Intellectuals (ALI) has provided an opportunity for a cross- section of Liberians to address crucial and pain-staking issues affecting the state and people who have suffered the 14-year bloodily and devastated", the statement added.

According to the statement, prominent among individuals who addressed the respected intellectual discourse include United Methodist Resident Bishop, Dr. John Innis, former U.L Faculty Association President, Reverend Professor Twaplay-Fano Dohr, Governance Reform Commission Chair-person, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Dr. Togba Nah- Tipoteh, Dr. Syrulwa Somah, Mr. Theo Bettie, Economist, Commerce Minister-Samuel Wulue and the renowned journalist and Environmentalist Grody Dorbor.

They also reminded Mr. Kiazolu that despite his negative propaganda of besmearing, the Association remains resolute and undeterred in her strive for intellectual openness. The Association of Liberian Intellectuals has been involved in providing scholarship for needy students who are currently attending high schools, computer schools, University of Liberia and graduate schools.

"What is even more distressing is the fact that the former PUL president failed to inform the readers of his paper what Dr. Conteh actually told the "Street People", as was carried in the banner headline". They added that it is very regrettable and disappointing that the Management of the Express will allow itself to be used by unscrupulous individuals and forces of destruction. "It further shows the limitation of the managerial staff to uphold the ethics of sound journalism," they propounded.

The association said it wanted to let the Management of the Express be reminded that no amount of propaganda and hate-writing will deter the Association to exercise its social responsibility to find solutions to critical issues through intellectualism which the Association subscribes to.

Meanwhile, the Association is calling on Mr. Kiazolu to retract the story. The Association demands an apology from the Management of the Express Newspaper.

In the Express Newspaper article which is also in the possession of The Perspective, Mr. Kaizolu castigated members of the Association and the association in general and was very personal, as if he had something against the organization and Dr. Conteh.