At a resoundingly colourful occasion held at the Radison Blu Hotel in Freetown, Nightwatch Managing Editor was among 100 Sierra Leoneans honoured as the most Rising Star in the country. Emmanuel Christian Thorli was identified among 90 registered newspapers in Sierra Leone.
At the Radison Blu, also known as Mammy Yoko Hotel, Thorli sat among top cream of society. The enviable award at the Radison Blu is not the first as the Editor was also previously honoured by several institutions of repute for his professional work.
Nightwatch, in 2019, bagged home four awards from highly respectable institutions.
Diaspora Focus, a group of eminent Sierra Leoneans staying abroad, awarded Nightwatch as the best newspaper in Sierra Leone. Almost invariably, the newspaper was also crowned as newspaper of the year, 2019 by the Edward Marrah Foundation, one of the most notable charitable foundations in Sierra Leone.
Nightwatch Newspaper was also a worthy recipient of the Environmental Care Awards last year from Shout Climate Change Africa in collaboration with Environment Protection Agency, a government institution charged with the responsibility of protecting the environment.
The award was won by the newspaper owing to the keen interest it has shown in giving out information to the public about the environment. Just after a week, the Managing Editor was recognised by the News Vendors Association, a local body of newspaper sellers as the fastest growing newspaper in Sierra Leone.
The latest award adds to the glorious achievements the paper has earned over the years. The award from Diaspora Focus was presented to him by the Minister of Information and Communication, Mohamed Rado Swarray.
Emmanuel Christian Thorli is now a celebrated living legend owing to the critical and truthful stance Nightwatch newspaper has shown in its reportage. He shows no compromise in telling the truth even to the power holders. But, he would not hesitate to shower praise where it is due.
Nightwatch Newspaper has demonstrated the quality of truth since its formation few years back. Nightwatch Newspaper is entirely the brainchild of the honoured Managing Editor and many journalists have benefitted from his foresight.
Apart from the creation of jobs, the Managing Editor has relentlessly worked in sharpening the journalistic skills of countless number of media practitioners in Sierra Leone. Investigative reporting is put at the centre of his media practice. Hardly, he publishes a news story whose facts are doubtful and same time less comprehensive.
That quality is rare in most if not all newspaper managers and that eminently qualifies for the noble awards he has won and those yet to come.
In a short interview immediately after the glorious awards ceremony, the young Managing Editor said he started the newspaper three years back not only to develop young Sierra Leonean writers but also to change the newspaper narrative in Sierra Leone.
“I want to create an impact on the news media landscape by holding power to account, and change perceptions of Sierra Leoneans on media owners and journalists,” he said.
The Managing editor’s statement resonates with one of the fundamentals of journalism. The ideal has been echoed and re-echoed in conventions, treaties, declarations and most importantly the country’s supreme law, the Constitution of Sierra Leone.
The Laws and Conventions are clear that media professionals exist to highlight the responsibility and accountability of government to the people. It is only with the achievement of such objective that can media practitioners say they have succeeded in checkmating the excesses of government.
The role of keeping government officials within the confines of ethics and professionalism is what the Nightwatch Managing Editor has been doing. This makes him stand tall among other editors. The newspaper is known for its diversified content which thrills and interest readers. The Managing Editor publishes news stories that are of concern to the two dominant political parties.
He maintains the balance as stories critical to the two political parties could be published, and those that add feathers to the parties’ caps are published. His stance lends credence to the public sphere theory advanced by a prominent communication scholar, Joagen Habermas.
The Habermas conception of the public sphere pinpoints that ideas from various sources must be allowed to flourish so that the audience can have a nuanced understanding of issues that affect society and their welfare.
Nightwatch Newspaper is one of the youngest newspapers with a humble beginning. It appeared on the newsstands at a time most newspapers were mesmerising government. The Nightwatch Managing Editor is at loggerheads with most of his colleague media practitioners over his critical stance with the then government.
Many stakeholders and senior journalists wrongly perceived him as a man who had political leanings with the Sierra Leone People’s Party. Despite the taunts he received from party stalwarts, he remains unruffled since he knows what he was aiming at.
The wrong perception about his political leaning grew higher as he was seen to have had a cosy relationship with the opposition at that time, the Sierra Leone People’s Party.
Media pundits would not hesitate to subscribe to the notion that one of the basic pillars on which Journalism rests is comforting the afflicted. SLPP, while in opposition, was vulnerable, and he did not see it prudent on his part to continue to afflict the opposition at that time.
His aim at that time was to concentrate on the powers that be to check their excesses. The erroneous perception about him prevailed for a considerable period on to a time SLPP was ushered into governance. Relationship between SLPP and Managing Editor assumed an uneasy calm as the party is now at the helm of governance.
Those who once branded the Managing Editor as an APC sympathiser ate back their words owing to the tough stance he took against the government. He was arrested at one point when he published one of the most controversial articles against the government. The newspaper’s tough stance with the duty bearers continues unabated.
The move is to ensure that those officials entrusted with public trust and responsibility execute their functions diligently and loyally. They must see themselves as servants of the people and not their masters.
But, he has strong belief in the notion that whenever he publishes an article seen critical by the readership, it is about calling on the attention of government to do more where it has lagged behind.
He does not believe in putting at stake the reputation of anyone, but ethical, credible and professional journalism, values that have earned Nightwatch an enviable status among newspapers in Sierra Leone.
Nightwatch newspaper in spite of its youthful age remains the fastest growing, and its content caters for every category of readers. The paper has hit very important public offices including the diplomatic community.
Above all, the Nightwatch Managing Editor stands for the truth which he always pursues, and has carved a niche in that direction. He believes that it is the truth that keeps the newspaper thriving. He is a journalist and he always remains a journalist with a positive ambition for higher heights in the media world.