Salone News

Christian Monitor editor bags master’s degree

14 November 2007 at 22:59 | 602 views

By Sheka Tarawalie.

As President Ernest Bai Koroma is being inaugurated
tomorrow Thursday 15th November 2007 in Freetown,
friends and well-wishers will continue the
celebrations in London at the graduation ceremony of
The Editor of the Christian Monitor newspaper, Charles
Davies, the following day Friday 16th November 2007.
Davies has been awarded a Master of Arts degree in
Media from London’s Thames Valley University.

The symmetry in the comparison lies in the fact that
Davies could not have called for a better moment to
complete his master’s thesis than the time when an
opposition party has beaten an incumbent government in
an election that was closely monitored by the media
with the support of the international community.

Davies’ paper, titled “An Analysis of the Media in
Post-Conflict Sierra Leone”, has a detailed and
extensive discussion of the activities of the media in
post-war Sierra Leone with a thorough inclusion of the
election coverage. Quoting Lorne W. Craner, Davies
wrote, “ Free and responsible media can have a
positive influence in any country, including those
that are newly emerging democracies. Free press is
essential in achieving stable democratic government.”
He argues about a free press begetting a free society,
which comes along with human freedom and economic
development.

On the Sierra Leone media landscape, Davies dips into
History by looking beyond the porous state of the
media in contemporary times to project his country as
“the first nation in Anglophone West Africa to publish
newspapers” and which eventually became “the hub of
African journalism.”

The primary objective of Davies’ paper is therefore to
rekindle hope that if the current “economic, social
and legal constraints” are removed under the renewed
democratic climate, there’s the potential that the
Sierra Leone media “can contribute positively towards
the democratic development of the nation.”

In getting to this point, Davies had to conduct an
intensive systematic research using both primary and
secondary sources, plus both qualitative and
quantitative methods to prove his case.

An interesting part of Davies’ paper deals with the
role of the media in the fight against corruption. And
here he had to extensively quote President Ernest
Koroma’s speech at the state opening of parliament
dilating on his government’s priority on the fight
against corruption. In the final part, Davies even has
a brief history of the president and the good image
that Sierra Leone has earned for itself
internationally in the democratic sphere.

Davies proudly asserts that Sierra Leone is being propelled
“into a beacon of hope on a continent that often falls
short of the tenets of democracy.” He then
categorically states, “The feasibility of those
expectations is validated by the elements that
contributed to what has been described around the
world as a pleasant surprise and a feat.”

He has praises for the National Electoral Commission
under the chairmanship of Christiana Thorpe in the
manner in which the elections were successfully
conducted.

Davies concludes on the need to strengthen the media
both in terms of material provision and training,
drawing an example from Kyrgyzstan where the US
Department of State donated a brand new colour
printing press in addition to training programmes for
local journalists with a view to promoting freedom of
the press. It was at the presentation ceremony that
the then US Assistant Secretary of State for
Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour, Lord Craner, made
the statement about the positive influence of a free
press in any democracy. Davies is right to have
quoted, as a kind of objective buffer, the famous
statement of US Supreme Court Justice Felix
Frankfurter that “Freedom of the press is not an end
in itself but a means to the end of achieving a free
society”.

Charles Davies is now celebrating a worthy year of
study, but he’ll do well both to himself and to future
generations of journalists if he transforms his
master’s paper into a book.

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