Each month, IJNet features an international journalist who exemplifies the profession and has used the site to further his or her career. If you would like to be featured, e-mail a short bio and a paragraph about how you have used IJNet’s resources to Dana Liebelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month’s journalist, Daylue Goah, is a layout editor and columnist for the Liberian newspaper, The Daily Observer, and also manages a travel website for Liberia. He is currently completing a post-graduate course in multimedia journalism at the International Media Institute of India, which he found through IJNet. (You can find more courses like it in our opportunities section or in our free weekly newsletter.) Goah plans to pursue a master’s level degree in multimedia studies abroad and can be contacted about scholarship opportunities at mrgoah(at)graduate(dot) org.
Where did you grow up? I was born in the West African state of Liberia, a country sharing borders with Guinea on the north, the Ivory Coast on the east and Sierra Leone on the west. I spent most of my childhood in Ivory Coast because of the civil crisis that started in my country in 1989. I returned to Liberia in 1995 and completed my high school degree in 2002, and my BSc level there in 2010.
What news organization(s) do you currently work with? Where have you worked in the past? Currently, I am the layout editor/columnist for The Daily Observer, Liberia’s oldest local daily. I also manage my own website. In the past, I have worked with several news organizations, including The New Democrat as an executive reporter, Crystal FM 95.5 as a talk show host and news editor, and later as a newscaster at DCTV.
Did you work in a different field before journalism? If so, how did it impact your current career? In 2002, immediately after the completion of my secondary level, I was employed by the Salvation Army as a classroom teacher. My two years in the classroom had a great impact on my current journalistic practices, by sharpening my writing, reading and people skills. I have also worked in private and governmental circles, serving as executive secretary to Hon. Samuel Bondo, a member of parliament at the Liberian National Legislature, and as a web administrator for a non-governmental organization, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL).
When did you know you wanted to be a journalist? How did you get started? I dreamed of becoming a journalist as early as 1990. My interest was in telling a story that no one else knew. When I was younger, I mounted an antenna on my parents’ house to catch BBC shortwave signal television, because I wanted information on the Liberian civil crisis back home. I always knew I wanted to appear on radio or television, but I didn’t officially get started until I established a Press Club in Len Miller High School.
How do you get your ideas for stories? Do you have a set routine for writing and reporting? I’ve always been interested in writing human-interest stories, particularly about youth and children. After the 14 years of civil unrest in Liberia, that saw the death of thousands of people—most of them in their teens—I wanted to use my writing as both inspiration and an agent of change for young people. Recently, before leaving Liberia, I wrote a column called Monrovia at Night. For the column, I went to dangerous places like ghettos, night clubs, prostitution centers and crime-infested areas in the capital, Monrovia, and wrote about the lives of people there. Ultimately, this column had a great impact, as the Liberian government has now shut down most of these prostitution centers.
What work are you proudest of so far? Why? My proudest work so far has been building the first travel website in Liberia. There are comments every day in my inbox about how it is impacting the lives of both Liberians and people outside the country. At the moment, the site has a section for election updates from Liberia.
Before that site, a piece that greatly moved me was reporting on the students’ demonstration at the University of Liberia. Initially, the demonstration was peaceful. But when violence erupted, several students were brutally handled by the peacekeepers and president's guards. As the only journalist close to the presidential palaces—where this was taking place—I started taking pictures, and immediately fell into trouble with the security forces. They beat me with guns and batons until I was unconscious. My camera was also damaged. After I was discharged from the hospital—I spent a few weeks there—I released the photos and the story to the world.
What advice would you give aspiring journalists? My advice for an aspiring journalist is to focus and go for it. The career requires commitment, and it’s time consuming. Additionally as journalists, we are the watchdogs of the society, and our moral and social lives are important. The public is watching us and will judge us by what we write, broadcast or publish. Anything with our byline is a reflection upon us. Sometimes, we are seen as “perfect” people who the society depends upon for accurate information that shapes daily lives. As a journalist, you have to think of yourself as being part of society, with a great influence on the mind of the people. Do you know why we are called “members of the Fourth Estate?” Because we hold an important role in the daily activities of people who read our writing. Transparency and credibility should always be at the center of everything we do.
How have you used the resources on IJNet? Why would you recommend it to other journalists? The search engine of IJNet is a great feature...by carefully using the search engine, you can break down what you are looking for into categories, or even eligibility. There are a lot of opportunities on the site and some are for a particular region, so by using the search engine and keywords you can find all the opportunities for, say, Africa. This allows me to avoid the headache of going through every post searching for Africa-related material.
Are there any training programs or schools that were particularly useful to you? My current enrollment at the International Media Institute of India is the best ever. Before coming to India, I basically knew nothing about website design. My only interaction with websites was just to load edited stories and photos, but since my enrollment at the college, I have learned basic coding methods and have dramatically improved my graphic skills.
How do you think journalists can best adapt to the changing media field? In this new media landscape, journalists have to multitask and adapt to new and challenging technology. Every journalist now has to take into consideration the convergence of the entire media platform and be a part of the changing world.
You have a know a little bit of everything: playing the camera; page making; web design methods; writing for mobile, radio and TV production, video editing, etc. Social media is, of course, another great tool. Journalists should go with the flow and get actively involved.
Photo courtesy Daylue Goah