Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Liberia’s Oldest Practicing Journalist Dies

Stanton Peabody’s imprisonment led to the formation of the Press Union of Liberia
Gboko John Stewart,
Stanton B. Peabody, affectionately known as “Bob Stan”, gave up the ghost at precisely 1:45 a.m. Tuesday, April 12 following a month-long battle with stroke. He was 80.
Peabody’s imprisonment led to the formation of the press union of Liberia.
Veteran Liberian Journalist Kenneth Y. Best, recalls Peabody as a man who was dedicated to his work. Best says Peabody stuck to principles. Says Best: “He never veered into the lucrative pasture of PR (Public Relations). He was a journalist for over sixty years.”
A ‘Reporter’s Editor’
Maureen Sieh, another Liberian journalist, now a U.S. Peace Corp in Morocco, described the fallen journalist as a reporter's editor. “He was very tough, but always pushed reporters to get the story right and fast. I remember when I decided to cover the Liberian civil war. He didn't say, "Don't send this young woman to the battle front.” He encouraged me. I remember how proud he was when I came back from Nimba County shortly after Taylor's forces invaded Liberia. He never tried to stop me from covering the war. Not once did he say because I was a woman. I really loved that about him. He was a great writer. Bob Stan was quiet, but he was very passionate about press freedom and did everything he could to foster that in Liberia. He will truly be missed. His death has certainly left a void in the Liberian press. I saw him a couple of years ago in Minneapolis. Of course we talked about the good old days. I really, really miss working with him, but his memory lives on. He was a really big part of my life and career.”
A fallen pillar
In a press statement issued by the PUL following his death, PUL President, Peter Quaqua described his death as the fall of a pillar.
The late Stanton B. Peabody was born in Marshall City, then Marshall Territory (now Margibi County), in 1931, to Albert D. Peabody and Serena F. Marshall.
He received his primary Education in the Marshall public school until 1944, when he moved to Monrovia, where he attended James B. McCritty School Afternoon School and the College of West Africa (1945-49), and then the St. John’s Episcopal Mission School in Grand Cape Mount County (1949-52).
Peabody returned to Monrovia and matriculated at the University of Liberia where, while still a student, he launched his journalism career as a reporter for the Liberian Age in 1952.
He later became senior reporter for the Liberian Age in 1952 a position he held until 1963.
A seasoned editor
Between 1963 and 1966, he served as assistant Editor, and became acting editor in May 1966 (when Editor-in-Chief Aston King was charged with seditious libel); he served as acting editor until July 1970, when he was formally appointed Editor-in-Chief, a position he retained even after the April 12, 1980 military coup d’ etat.
When the Age’s name was changed by the PRC military government in September 1980 to The Redeemer, he continued to serve as Editor-in-Chief until December 1980 when he was transferred to the Ministry of Information as Editor-in-Chief of the New Liberian, a position he held until he was dismissed in 1981.
In October 1983, he became editor of the Daily Observer and its sister paper, Sunday Observer, and by 1995, was its managing director.
Between 1991 and 1994, he also served as Editorial consultant for the Inquirer newspaper, and later served on the organizing committee of the Torchlight, a newspaper established by ECOMOG, the West African Peacekeeping Force during the height of the Liberian civil conflict.
A veteran journalist who covered over five Liberian administrations, Peabody received numerous national and international awards and honors, including “Journalist of the Year” in 1988 because of “his incisive and thought-provoking editorials.” Since 1962, he has served as correspondent in Liberia for the British wire service, Reuters. Returning to Liberia in 2005 after a brief self-exile in the United States, and continued to be active in the press and involved with journalist in Liberia.