The managing editor of The Inquirer newspaper Phillip N. Wesseh says he is not perturbed about the exodus of at least five senior staff members of his newspaper, “because they have their right to choose wherever they want to go.”
He told the Daily Observer in a telephone conversation on Monday, January 14, 2019, that though the five former staff members had been with The Inquirer newspaper for many years, their resignation en masse was an attempt to undermine the productivity of his newspaper. Mr. Wesseh’s position was why the five former members should resign at the same time.
“The Inquirer newspaper will continue to be on the newsstand,” he declared.
It can be recalled that five members of The Inquirer, including editors, resigned from the newspaper to join what is called “The Independent Inquirer” newspaper, whose premier edition appeared on the newsstand on Monday, January 14, a week after their resignation from The Inquirer newspaper.
While earlier reports said the plan was reportedly orchestrated in Accra, Ghana, at the home of George Weah’s key economic advisor Emmanuel Shaw and Finance and Economic Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, the former employees said the mass exodus of staff was due to “a one-man show” institution, which is unprecedented, including poor management of The Inquirer’s resources, intimidation, bad labor practice, lack of accountability, among other vices, that are counterproductive to the growth of any institution, especially for a newspaper which claims to be independent.
Though Mr. Wesseh was reported to have described the mass exodus as an attempt to sabotage his newspaper’s operations, the former employees, in a release, described Wesseh’s statement as a diversionary tactic to sway from the reality of what is obtaining at the Inquirer newspaper, where the lack of management, disrespect for employees, including senior editorial staff, coupled with the “Work-No-Pay Syndrome,” has become the fruit of mismanagement, something that is gradually killing the 27 year-old Inquirer, thereby sending said institution to its demise.
“Let it be clear that The Independent Inquirer newspaper was established by a group of professional journalists for several reasons, prominent among which are to operate a critical but objective and professional commercially-driven media institution; to analytically and objectively raise national consciousness on societal ills through our reportage, editorials, commentaries, among others; to strongly uphold the ethics of journalism without compromise; serve as conscience of the larger society; and operate with every other institution, including government institutions, on a purely professional basis without influence or bias,” the release said.
It may also be noted that the economic crunch that has affected every sector of the economy has also hit the Liberian media hard. With the Government of Liberia as well as some businesses and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) heavily indebted to the media — for over 12 months, in some cases, most media houses have run into arrears for staff salaries.
“This has affected many media institutions, who are finding it extremely difficult to pay arrears of their employees and procure supplies to keep business going,” said a managing director of a media institution in Monrovia.