As Liberia joint the rest of the world to celebrate the contributions and challenges faced by women on International Women’s Day (IWD) today, Monday, March 8, the media is also paying tribute to a young professional environmental journalist.
Meet Korto Snowe, 24, of Radio Kintoma in Lofa County who has also earned a series of accolades as a female journalist, an advocate, and a mentor.
Her article “We Must Protect Our Forest” published in November 2020, encouraged farming outside the forest as a strategy to enhance forest management for her country, Liberia.
This article earned her an award in the 2020 Forest Reporting Competition, organized for members of the Forest Reporters Network by the Liberia Media Center (LMC) in partnership with the UK-funded Multi-stakeholder Forest Governance and Accountability Project (MFGAP).
This 3-year project, managed by Palladium, has been building the capacity of independent media for forest reporting as one of its key outputs, and the media award ceremony held in Monrovia last month, recognized those at the forefront of their profession.
When presenting Korto with her award, the UK Ambassador to Liberia, Neil Bradley, described her as a focused and steadfast young woman, who is leading the change that the Liberian society craves for women.
Korto has proven herself to be one of the best news anchors on rural radio in Western Liberia, as well as a Senior Radio Producer, presenting the topnotch women’s rights advocacy program – the Ladies Night Radio Show, on Radio Kintoma in Voinjama, Lofa County.
In 2020, she was elected as County Coordinator of the Female Journalist Association of Liberia (FeJAL) for Lofa, where she is mentoring young women on how to use their talents to champion the cause of women in a world she terms “very male”.
Conversation with Korto
Q: Where were you born and grew up?
A: I was born and raised in Voinjama, Lofa County. My Pa (father) name is Mr Daniel Borbor Snowe and my Ma (mother) name is Madam Noah M. Barclayin.
Q: What moved you into Journalism?
A: I grew up in one of the remotest parts of Liberia, Lofa, witnessed and personally experienced the common challenges faced by women. Amidst the emotional and sexual abuses, our society further pins women far below the measures of human dignity. As such, I chose this profession, to help provide avenues that would match solutions and these challenges that women face. I want to be their representative and advocate. Beyond this, we need to face the concerns in our educational, political, cultural, economic, health, and rule-of-law sectors. There are countless roles the media play in improving these sectors. It takes one like me to make a small change that could positively impact the unborn generations. For this cause, I started my career as a Child Broadcaster at Radio Kintoma 101.1 FM in 2013 under the Girls Making Media Program sponsored by Plan International-Liberia.
Q: What advice do you have for your fellow female journalists or other young women interested in your field?
A: As a female journalist, you have to be determined. This business isn’t easy. There will be many mistakes, many doors slammed in your face, promotions you do not get, good bosses, bad bosses, tough criticism — the list goes on and on. You have to know who you are and be confident enough to keep going after what you want. Whether you are in a room with the County Superintendent, the Senator or Minister, perhaps the President, you have to ask the tough questions and be ready to report on the tough answers. Also, work on your writing and diction. I don’t care how good you look or sound on the air, if you can’t write a good story or speak well, it’s going to be very difficult. As an intern, I used to take articles in the papers, read the various news websites, sometimes rewrite normal articles into news scripts and practice reading them in front of a mirror. All I can say, practice and be willing to learn and prepared to face discrimination based on your gender.
Q: Can you share with us some of the challenges you face as a female reporter?
A: I will not be selfish to speak only for myself but rather share the common challenges female journalists across the nation face. The patriarchal nature of the Liberian society extends right into the newsroom. The female journalist is regarded by her male employer, editor and counterparts as a woman not as a colleague. They are rarely allowed to prove their competence and if by accident they come up with some applaudable results, they are accused of having used their “woman power” to achieve. They are perceived and treated as people that are not able to bring out the news behind the news and are oftentimes not allowed to prove the contrary.
Q: You care to share with us your philosophy?
A: Why not? A free press can be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom, a press will never be anything but bad. Similarly, let this change the current dynamics for women journalists in the Liberian media.
Q: What would you say is your main goal in Journalism?
A: My goal is just simple. I want to be an impeccable media character that will serve as a measure for other aspiring female journalists to follow and report about their own case. I work not for profits but to sacrifice. I want to also continue to provide clear, truthful and above all impartial information about many subjects that reflect the reality of society.
Q: Who do you credit your achievements to?
A: I will like to recognize my Mother, Madam Noah M. Barclay in, who laid the foundation for my education as a single parent, and pay tribute to my Station Manager, Mr Tokpa Tarnue, for believing in my dreams and giving me an opportunity and platform on Radio Kintoma to demonstrate my skills and talents.