…Insists Mohamed Massaquoi
July 28, 2017
Our attention was yesterday drawn to reports in some newspapers, including the New Vision and Blade newspapers, and on social media quoting the Chairman of National Telecommunications Company (NATCOM), Momoh Conteh, that our front page lead story on Wednesday, 26th July, 2017 was “false, misleading and lack an iota of truth”.
Even though the said newspapers blatantly failed to hear our side of the story, thus violating a sacred ethical best practice and their penchant to satisfy “a puppet master”, we wish the public to note that Concord Times stands by the story.
Our ace senior reporter, Mohamed Massaquoi, insists that he spoke to Mr. Konteh on phone, after several attempts, including text messages, to get a quote from him for the story. “Momoh Konteh spoke to me prior to the publication and confirmed that government was thinking about monitoring the misuse of social media,” Massaquoi told our editorial team yesterday.
Mr. Konteh himself did not speak to editors at Concord Times to refute to have spoken to our reporter. Instead, he chose to mobilise his ‘friends in the media’, who abandoned their basic journalistic core values to go to town with a one-sided report!
Concord Times had reported in our July 26th edition with a banner headline that “NATCOM Boss Echoes Govt.’s Plan to Ban Social Media”.
Besides our report, Radio Democracy FM 98.1 on 16 July, 2017 aired a report during their popular ‘Gud Morning Salone’ programme about the installation of telecommunication poles in some towns and villages in the northern and southern province of Sierra Leone. The reporter clearly stated that NACTOM had bought more equipment to monitor the misuse of social media in Sierra Leone.
It was based on that statement that our reporter decided to interview Mr. Konteh for clarity because there had been threats by government officials to ban social media, including the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Cornelius Deveaux, although without a clear explanation as to whether they could achieve the feat.
Like many politicians in Sierra Leone, Mr. Konteh is very difficult to reach; well particularly if you are not one of his ‘media friends’. But thanks to journalist Salieu Tejan-Jalloh, through whom our reporter says he got his telephone number to have him respond to the topical social media issue.
He explains: “At first, Mr. Konteh responded to the calls but however noted that he was in a meeting and promised to call back and respond to the questions posed to him. Unfortunately he could not. I also sent him three messages, but he did not respond. He finally decided to respond to Concord Times where he said ‘They have already engaged mobile service providers to ensure that social media users are closely monitored”.
On the 18th July 2017, Mr. Konteh was hosted on Radio Democracy FM 98.1 and the moderator asked him about the same issue pertaining to social media usage in Sierra Leone.
He said NATCOM had already bought equipment as a way to monitor social media use especially those who are misusing the social media.
Also, during a stakeholder’s engagement on the use of social media at the Bintumani conference hall on Tuesday, 28 September, 2016 Mr. Konteh noted that Sierra Leone was challenged by combating issues relating to the misuse of social media especially Facebook and Whatsapp “which has the potential of destabilising the security of the country and basically the moral parts of it that holds us together if not immediately addressed.”
He was more concerned or alarmed about the fact that “some Sierra Leoneans who use Facebook and Whatsapp are misusing these forums by abusing senior government officials” and not the broader social utility benefits society gain from social media.
“Our core values are excellence and objectivity, which we hold as scared and part of the reason we have been at the pinnacle of journalism practice in Sierra Leone for over two decades,” says the editorial team. “We also value truth and eschew bad journalism, including ‘collect and attack or defend’!”