The Daily Observer, Liberia’s oldest surviving independent newspaper has won the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) 2018/2019 “Newspaper of Year Award.” PUL’s Awards Vetting Committee Chair, Horatio Bobby Willie, made the pronouncement at its annual award night on Friday, August 9, 2019 at the Paynesville City Hall.
Willie said that members of the vetting committee reached the decision, “because of the variety of articles covering different sectors of society, as well as the content of the articles…”
Friday’s ceremony was attended by President George Weah and entourage, among them, Information Minister Eugene Len Nagbe, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson T. Koijee and Senator Conmany Wesseh.
Other high profile individuals include Daily Observer Publisher and former Press Union president, Kenneth Y. Best; former Information Minister, Rev. Emmanuel Bowier; Managing Editor of the Inquirer newspaper, Philip N. Wesseh; and scores of national and international guests.
The PUL also recognized the Daily Observer’s judicial reporter, Abenedgo N. Davis, as the “PUL Judicial Reporter of the Year.” The awards committee added that reporter Davis has remained consistent with his judicial reportage, taking into consideration his follow-ups of stories to court-related activities.
Mr. Best received the institutional award on behalf of the Daily Observer. Abednego Davis, who did not attend the award program, extended his “thanks and appreciation to the Daily Observer family who enabled me to win the award.” Davis, has covered the judiciary for about nine years.
Bai Best, Managing Director of the Liberian Observer Corporation, the company that publishes the Daily Observer, described the award as “a total surprise.” Though he was not present the moment the award was present, he expressed thanks and appreciation the PUL for the recognition and to all of the Daily Observer’s readers, subscribers and advertisers for their patronage.
“This Newspaper of the Year award goes to each and everyone in every department of the Daily Observer,” Best wrote in the newspaper’s online chatroom. “Also a well deserved congratulations to our Judicial Reporter, Abednego Davis! Your hard work has finally been publicly recognized. We are grateful for the work each and everyone of you put into this patriotic cause. Rest assured, the best is still ahead. I praise God immensely for all of you.”
He also expressed gladness that the newspaper’s founders, Kenneth and Mae Gene Best, were alive to finally receive the their very first PUL Newspaper of the Year award.
The top award given by the PUL is the first of its kind in the Daily Observer’s 38-year history. Since it was established in February 1981, the newspaper, through the leadership of its illustrious founders, nurtured many prominent Liberian journalists who have gone on to achieve many great personal and professional achievements, both in and beyond the journalism profession. In addition, the Daily Observer and its staff over the years have survived many political, economic and arson attacks over the same period and, by the grace of the Almighty God, has remained one of the key voices of Liberia’s democratic journey.
Other winning institutions include, Online Newspaper of the Year: The News Public Trust; Online TV of the Year: KMTV (Kreative Mindz Television); while the Radio and Television Stations of the Year was awarded to: ECOWAS Radio and LNTV (Liberia National Television), respectively.
Other categories include: Business and Economic Reporting: Moses Garzewu of KMTV; Development Reporting: Anthony Stephens, who also won the Investigative Reporting and Journalist of Year titles; Environmental Reporting: Edward Blamo, Frontpage Africa; Health Reporting: Bettie Johnson Mbayo (Frontpage Africa), who also won the award for Women Rights Reporting; Human Rights Reporting: Gbatemah S.K. Senah (Bush Chicken Online), who also won the Land Rights Reporting award; Humanitarian Reporter of the Year: Sampson David (LBS); Newscaster of Year: Fabine Kwiah also of LBS; and the Legislative Reporter of the Year: Musa Kanneh, Truth FM.
The PUL is the umbrella organization serving Liberian media professionals and institutions. With a membership of base of more than 500 journalists, the PUL has oversight responsibility for addressing problems arising from journalists’ reportage and conduct in the face of the ever growing demand for quality and good taste.
The Union was set up in September 1964 to advocate for press freedom and the protection of journalists.