The thin line between investigative journalism and witch- hunting blurred in Sorious Samura’s controversial documentary
By KABS KANU :
Sorious Samura has stirred the hornets’ nest by producing a documentary for Al jazeera that is very damaging to the country of his birth. While we continue to say that we do not wish to minimize the effect of illegal timber business and the environmental disaster it is wreaking on the country, we think that Sorious Samura should have conducted his investigative reporting in such a professional manner without trying to destroy the integrity of the ruling All People’s Congress ( APC ) Government and the country. Opinion is free but facts are sacred.
SORIOUS SAMURA : An enemy of the State
If he had wanted to lace his job with a dose of professionalism, Sorious Samura should have started by giving credit to President Ernest Bai Koroma for being the only head of state to recognize the damaging environmental consequences of the timber trade and for taking the bull by the horns to impose a ban on what is certainly a multi-billion dollar enterprise .
He could have even seized upon the opportunity to conduct an interview with President Koroma to get his views about the reasons for imposing the ban and what he aimed to accomplish, though it is common knowledge that it was to arrest the alarming disappearance of our forests.
But when so-called investigative journalists set out with agendas already set –which is to propagate already established biases and stigma against socio-political and economic institutions, nation-states and people in high positions of responsibility, their work is bound to be sloppy, shoddy and subject to many questions .
Sorious Samura exposed his motives from the word go and it is surprising that the Al Jazeera journalists who streamlined and edited his work failed to pick out the first journalistic flaw in Mr. Samura’s investigative work.
He left no room for surprises from viewers .
Watching the video , any trained journalist would quickly detect that Sorious Samura’s work was going to lack the dramatic and climatic surprises that underpin an investigative report of the nature he said he had gone to Sierra Leone to conduct. The investigator already had preconceived notions; he did not flinch to state them and he was going to tailor his work to correspond to his already stated motives and preconceived bias.
The fiction writer has already told his readers what the climax of his so-called blockbusting thriller is going to be. Henceforth, characters will be placed in situations where they make statements that reinforce the already stated climax. A major scene in the novel will be superimposed on the wrong location arbitrarily to back up a preconceived conclusion. What a shame. What criminality ! !
What a shame that Sorious Samura came to do an investigative work but left the shores of Sierra Leone with a crime disguised as investigative journalism.
Sorious Samura naively exposed his motive at the start when he said that he had heard that the illegal timber business reached the highest level of government and that was what he was about to investigate . He spoke like one who already believed what he had heard and was going out to authenticate the hear-say .
Was that why he chose the V-P ?
Was that why he lied that the bribe-solicitation took place in the VP’s office when infact it happened somewhere else ?
Why is he not clarifying to the stunned world that the bribery scene happened miles away from the VP’s office ?
He had destroyed the surprise viewers get from investigative reports. What one would later see in the film is a journalist striving hard, cutting facts and events here and putting them here and there , to help support the premise he had already established for his investigation. In so doing, Sorious Samura highlighted the fact that there is always going to be a thin line between investigative journalism and witch-hunting.
Vice-President Sam Sumana will feel that he has been mugged and made a sacrificial lamb at Sorious Samura’s altar of witch-hunting and predatory Journalism–and he is quite right ! ! ! What a tangled story we weave when at first we seek to deceive.
The Whole purpose of the Al Jazeera sting job was not to expose how Sierra Leoneans have still not learnt a lesson FROM THE PAST, as the reporter also pontificates , but a calculated and cold blooded attempt to tarnish the good name of the Vice-President and the government and people of Sierra Leone.
The APC Government will be aggrieved that the so-called Emmy -award winning journalist chose to showcase the negative side of the country at a time when President Ernest Koroma ‘s Government WAS RIDING HIGH AND DESERVED THE PLAUDITS .
It had just accomplished more brilliant socio-economic and political feats in its continued efforts to make Sierra Leone a better place. The IMF had come and gone with very good impressions about the government’s handling of the economy. It had been announced that the economy experienced a 7% growth rate and the indices portend well for the economy.
OSWALD HANCILES , a famous and excellent writer in Freetown explains further :
It has been such a neat ‘trick’. I thought most of you who are patriots would see it.
Scroll down the page and re-read the article which I wrote on the investment conference held in Freetown on November 16, 2011.
Think. That was just about a WEEK AGO!! Notice how the Sorrious Al Jazeera story has wiped that soaring achievement of the APC, for the country, off the headlines; off the cyberspace forums!!!
Neat!! Cheap!! Sordid!!!
What are the World Bank figures on Foreign Direct Investment to Africa between 2010 and 2011? About $40 billion. Sierra Leone attracted some $4 billion of that $40 billion. Now, those of you who know mathematics, crunch the figures for us: Sierra Leone’s geographical space; Sierra Leone’s population, Sierra Leone’s literate level, and work out the percentage of investments, proportionately, that the President Ernest Bai Koroma-led government has been able to attract – all wiped out for the headline by a ‘patriotic journalist’, Sorrious, who was in Freetown when the investment conference was being held (but, apparently, did not attend it!!). O, woe!!!
It is so easy to decry one’s country down!! So easy!!! So very easy!! It is much more difficult to build!!!
No doubt, there is festering and chronic corruption in Sierra Leone. But, do we ‘kill’ our nation in trying to fight corruption within?!!!
Sorious Samura is a brilliant journalist but he has never used his rich journalistic skills to rebrand the country. He is in a great position to be a master-rebrander but all he has done is leave outsiders apopletic , phlegmatic and disappointed with our striving nation.
The timing of the documentary definitely demonstrates a conspiracy against the nation, not only the APC Government. The government should launch a strong investigation to determine whether Sorious Samura is part of a wider conspiracy to destabilize the government before next year’s elections. We have said it before and we say it again that the opposition in Sierra Leone has shady links with the international media.
We have Victor Sylver at the BBC.
Sierra Leoneans should not underrate the menace Sylver could cause the nation in his bitter, vindictive, malicious and dangerous spite for President Ernest Koroma. Sylver, a manifest SLPP fanatic who does not disguise his political identity with the opposition party, is so biased and bitter against the President that he will sell his grandmother for the opportunity to use the international press to damage the country. Sylver could be the linkman between the SLPP and rogue sections of the international media .
He set out first by seeking unsuccessfully to destroy the good name of this writer and journalists propagating the President’s achievements. One could clearly see that Victor Sylver is a paid agent of the SLPP. It will not be surprising if he is working in tandem with Sorious Samura. His jubilation at Samura’s work speaks eloquently.
The opposition is leaving nothing to chance . The APC is resilient and had been brilliant in showcasing the achievements government .The opposition were on the ropes. They had selected a running mate that did nothing to raise their game.
Then comes the announcement that the Presidential Elections will be held on November 18 next year. A heightened state of political euphoria is ushered in. SLPP are still underdogs. The political ante is uppedbut they are still trailing the ruling party in public opinion . Then emerges a so-called investigative reporter and he helps conduct a sting operation that besmears and destroys the Vice-President. You can see the drama of destructive politics being well-played by the opposition.
All these points do not however detract from the fact that Sorious Samura’s documentary did expose damaging stuff that will harm this country’s image if the government does not come out with something equally spectacular to overturn the effects of the Al Jazeera work.
Our forests are definitely being decimated . Nobody worth his salt would deny this fact. And anybody who loves his country will be certainly disappointed and alarmed by some of the conversation caught by hidden camera.
While President Koroma, a sleep-deprived man, is toiling day and night to turn the country’s fortunes around, other Sierra Leoneans are busy destroying his gains. It is not fair to the President at all. .Gone are all our beautiful forests and the ecology and precious species they harbour. Something drastic and dramatic should be done immediately by Government to reverse this dangerous trend of the destruction of our forests.
The results of the investigation also in progress must be used by government to send a clear-cut , unequivocal and uncompromising message that it is still standing by its pledge to have no sacred cows .