The Blogger

Making the News

"By 5am, I am out of bed. I use one hour to follow the news on radio and television, starting with Real TV and Power FM. I might attend some press conferences, call public relations officers, and sometimes get news tips from volunteers. Until 6 AM, I talk with my team about which stories go to press. I take a break for breakfast from 7 to 7:30 AM, and by 8 AM the board is opened to public readers. It’s free. All you have to do is come and read.

"Liberians are interested in social ills and sports. The Daily Talk reposts news on social ills like “Super Friday”, which is a trend among high school students to leave campus on Friday and engage in merrymaking on beaches and entertainment centers. On Super Fridays, they get involved in drinking, marijuana, drugs, and gangsterisms.

"I also cover international stories. For example, we don’t have issues of lesbianism or gay rights in Liberia. Liberians found it completely disgusting when a lady from the United States said that gays should have rights. Our president says it is un-African and not part of Liberian culture, but the British government and Obama administration tie financial aid to gay and lesbian rights. Some Liberians took to the streets and even wanted to kill advocates of gay rights, so that foreign story became a local issue. I had to turn my attention to this.

"When there is no big story, I use a human-interest story. For example, there was a guy who ate human feces: he had been charged with rape, and when he came into court everyone expected him to argue that he didn’t rape the child, that the accusations had not one iota of truth. But when the judge called the defendant, he said, “I just want to use the restroom”. Two minutes later, he came back in with human feces in his hand and he was eating it and everybody started to run here and there. You don’t really expect those kinds of things, so it became a news story.

"You have to write and present the information in a way that the unlettered and the half-educated can consume. When Obama, Ellen, and Tony Blair make their speeches, they use complicated language that common people can’t understand. The Daily Talk uses different symbols for illiterate people. A helmet signifies that a news story is about the United Nations. A white cloth used to mean Barack Obama, because he was seen as a peacemaker. But now he is seen as a second George Bush, so we use the American flag.

"My advice: To be the kind of journalist who gets to the bottom of the news, you have to be frank with those who are in power. Befriend the newsmakers and you will get the news."


Illustration: Fanqiao Wang