From newspaper library keeper to ‘journalist of the year’ – FrontPageAfrica


“Journalist of the Year award goes to Lennart Dodoo of FrontPage Africa! the announcement – ​​by Mr. Nathan N. Bengu (Price Verification Committee Chairman) – trickled down to the reception segment of the Republic of Liberia Ministerial Complex. The event was the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) “Media Excellence Awards & Dinner Night” 2021/2022. The date of the event was Saturday, May 28, 2022. And the venue was the reception hall of the oldest ministry complex. Congo Town, outside the national capital – Monrovia.

By Samuel G. Dweh, Contributing Author

Seconds after the announcement, the adoring shouts of the winner’s co-workers (from the same print media institutions) and friends intensified and continued as the winner climbed from his seat and trudged on. to the stage to receive his award and make “a short remark”.

Seconds later, a dark-skinned young man (in a brown business suit) slowly stood up from the table he shared with other event attendees.

After receiving the award, Lennart said he was surprised to have been shortlisted for the award, thanked the Liberia Press Union leadership and partners for organizing the event.

“This award is a symbol of public appreciation for the work we do at FrontPage. We feel more rewarded when we see our work, our stories inspire change in our country, when we see major decisions that could otherwise have adverse effects on our community, county or country revealed – that’s the essence of journalism. We will continue to strive to provide quality reporting and more in-depth investigations,” said Journalist of the Year award winner Lennart Dodoo during his speech after receiving the award.

Head of the FrontPage Africa news desk, Lennart Dodoo became more popular in two of his investigative reporting. The first (posted June 24, 2022) concerns the “lies” of Montserrado County Senator Hon. Darius Dillon, about flying with the “Economy Class” airfare (on Asky Airline), when traveling to the United States, instead of the “Business Class Airfare” he had traveled on. Lennart’s story was accompanied by a photo of the senator in “business class.” On Lennart’s story, the “most outspoken senator” – against “corruption” and “lies” (especially by Senator Dillon’s political opponents) – confessed to using “Business Class” and he is apologized for the “false information” he gave to the Liberian public.

The second story that caught Lennart’s national attention concerns the “embezzlement” (by officials) of twenty-four million US dollars ($24 million) earmarked for the maintenance of state highways. The story prompted the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to investigate and uncover the ‘truth’ of the reporter’s report.

Lennart Dodoo’s entry into the Liberian News Media Space was uncharted – he entered indirectly.

On May 30, 2022, while editing this article, I had the opportunity to speak with the new “Journalist of the Year” in Liberia, and I “demanded” him to take me back to the past of his journalistic journey .

He obliged, and recounted (reproduced below)

“Mr. Kenneth Y. Best, publisher of the Daily Observer newspaper, gave me the opportunity to learn how to be a journalist at the DO (Daily Observer) I started by helping to take care of the library. It all started in January 2009. Later, I had the opportunity to start contributing stories. I was then assigned to the Temple of Justice and Liberia National Police Headquarters as a freelancer. then was hired as a full-time employee. In 2011, I joined the INSIGHT newspaper, where I was a reporter and then editor. In 2016, I joined the FrontPage Africa newspaper as a sub-editor. , then as head of the information office.”

I had worked with Lennart Dodoo at INSIGHT newspaper where I was employed as editor in 2011 by the publisher, Mr. Adolphus Dolo, former Senator of the Republic of Liberia. INSIGHT was my next media workplace after leaving the Daily Observer where I was a proofreader/editor for six months in 2011. The Daily Observer was my first media-related workplace when I returned home (in May 2011) after my 10 years of life as a refugee in Nigeria (2001-2011), where I also underwent formal training in journalism at the Times Journalism Institute (TJI) – the training branch from the Daily Times Newspaper of Nigeria. When I was at TJI, the school was located at Plot 40/42 Imam Dauda Way, Iganmu, Orile, Lagos State.

During our time with INSIGHT, Lennart Dodoo has been exceptionally productive and humble with me, his “boss” on the editorial team. I can’t remember a day when Lennart was insubordinate against me on an editorial issue – which story the editor should approve or send first, which story should make the headlines, etc.

And Lennart was my “internal teacher” – even though I was his “senior colleague” – sometimes drawing my attention to spelling errors and grammatical constructions in “finally edited stories” (by me) to send to the person layout, or in the Journal already on newsstands!

The professional environment of the FrontPageAfrica (FPA) newspaper – which won the “Newspaper of the Year Award” at the same event (the second time in a row) – made Lennart Dodoo the “journalistic giant” that he is today today. Mr. Rodney D. Sieh is the editor and is known to most media professionals as the newspaper’s co-owner. FPA, founded in 2005, has won “Journal of the Year” numerous times. This is the second time the paper has won the Newspaper of the Year award under Lennart’s editorship of the newsroom.

FPA is the “Leader” in the print media category of the Liberian media sector – state or private (independent). I, an active journalist, am not the only person (no form of attachment to the paper) to have this opinion. My regular reading of stories published in each of the newspapers is the basis of my “feeling”.

Here are the factors from my point of view/opinion: FrontPage Africa is the only newspaper that does not devote a “full page” to foreign articles (due to insufficient local articles) as each of the other newspapers does (some newspapers give more than two pages to foreign information); FrontPageAfrica is the only article that delves (in depth) into a story more than any of the other articles; FrontPage Africa leads other newspapers on the salary of its reporters and editors (the lower salary of reporters from other newspapers causes them to beg for money from journalists at public functions); FrontPageAfrica is the only newspaper that is not immersed in “songs of political praise” (praising a politician – and reporting critically on any politician or political party), unlike each of the other newspapers (indicated with the title or caption of “political history”); and the editor/editor of FrontPage Africa gives the editor/chief of the newspaper’s news desk an “external media experience exposure” (trip to an international media event) than any of the editors of the other newspapers; and FPA prioritizes in-house journalism training for its reporters (new entrants – fresh graduates from Liberian journalism schools or a high school press club), which builds on the “strong background in journalistic writing” of FPA Publisher of the Daily Observer newspaper (owned by his uncle, Kenneth Y. Best, one of Liberia’s prolific writers) He is a relative of Kenneth Best, according to some sources, and the “blood of writing” runs through the skin of both people. Rodney’s equals in prolific writing, in Liberia’s media community, are Tom Kamara (now deceased), publisher of the New Democrat Newspaper; and Mr. Kenneth Best—his “uncle.” Other editors are good only at “editing” articles or “writing checks” for advertising costs from the newspaper’s clients – government, UN agencies, etc.

The United States Government’s participation, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in the 2021/2022 Press Union of Liberia’s Media Excellence Awards event made it “more gracious “.

During his opening remarks, Mr. Joel Maybury, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States of America Embassy in Liberia, Mr. Joel Maybury, pointed to the “unbalanced reports” warned by the members of the PUL, encouraged them to give priority to reporting on human rights. women’s and children’s rights, and deplored the wanton murders of journalists around the world.

President of the Liberia Press Union, Charles B. Coffey, Jr., has called for more support from the Liberian government and Liberia’s international development partners for the professional empowerment of the media community Liberians.

Mr. Jarwala Tonpoh, representing the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), recommended that the “Integrity Award” and the “Service Award Outstanding Audience” be added to the PUL’s annual awards event for outstanding journalistic productions. .

Although the current management is “praised” for offering “awards” to deserving journalists, this group of officials is also on the media radar for “unethical actions”. An example is to “keep” the “Development Journalist of the Year Award” (2018/2019) for member Samuel G. Dweh. The prize is a digital recorder donated by LAVI (Liberia Accountability and Voice Initiative), sponsored by USAID, a member of the 2018/2019 prize committee, Madam Torwon Sulunten Brown, revealed to me a year after the event. There was another problem with the award certificate given to me (one year after the event) through the PUL project manager, Mr. James David: no signature of the chairman of the awards committee , Mr. Jarwala Tonpoh – now Deputy Director of Press and Public Affairs of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT)

We PUL members can “do it right professionally and ethically”, as FrontPage Africa’s Chief Information Officer, Lennart Dodoo, demonstrated with his “good stories” which won him the Journalist of the Year”.


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