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Yeama Sarah Thompson


Yeama Sarah Thompson is a trailblazing figure in the realm of journalism and media development, whose lifelong dedication to promoting human rights transparency, open data, and media literacy has left an indelible mark on Sierra Leone’s media landscape. Born with a passion for storytelling, she embarked on a remarkable journey that would see her rise from a cub reporter to the first female Managing Director of the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA), while founding numerous initiatives that shaped the nation’s media landscape.

In the early stages of her career, Yeama cut her teeth as a cub reporter at the esteemed Sierra Leone Daily Mail, honing her skills as a journalist and learning the ropes of the industry. Her unyielding commitment to truth and accuracy in reporting led her to become an Editor at The Chronicle newspaper, where she demonstrated her mettle in the midst of war-time challenges in Sierra Leone. These experiences laid the foundation for her unwavering belief in the power of media to influence positive change.

Yeama’s fervor for empowering others through media development led her to establish the Initiatives for Media Development, a non-governmental organization dedicated to media research, advocacy, and capacity building. This platform became a catalyst for nurturing young journalists, fostering media literacy, and promoting ethical journalism across the country.

Her commitment to promoting factual reporting and combating misinformation led her to create Sierra Leone’s first fact-checking platform, a groundbreaking initiative that offered the public a reliable source of information amid the proliferation of fake news. In addition, she is the owner and publisher of the Spectrum Newspaper, providing a credible platform for diverse voices to be heard and empowering communities through accurate reporting.

Beyond Sierra Leone’s borders, Yeama made significant contributions to journalism in Liberia during the 2011 Liberian General Elections. Collaborating with the Liberia Media Centre (LMC), she championed a rights-media approach to reporting, empowering journalists and community radio stations to play a pivotal role in promoting democracy and accountability.

As Country Director of Journalists for Human Rights in Sierra Leone, Yeama conceptualized and implemented a human rights reporting strategy during the 2012 elections, contributing to a peaceful electoral process. Her efforts not only supported free and fair elections but also demonstrated the profound influence that media can have in fostering social cohesion and human rights awareness.

Recognizing the pressing need to address gender inequality in media representation, Yeama served as Lead Gender Media Trainer with BBC Media Action in Sierra Leone. Utilizing the power of radio, she worked tirelessly to improve access to security and justice for women and girls, sparking transformative conversations and breaking down barriers that impeded their progress.

Her tenacity and leadership skills led her to assume the role of Media Lead in the Risk Communications and Social Mobilization pillar of the National COVID-19 Emergency Response (NaCOVERC) and the Ebola Virus Emergency preparedness plan. Throughout these crises, she played a pivotal role in disseminating accurate information, educating the public, and mitigating the impact of these deadly viruses.

As Commissioner of the Right to Access Information Commission, Yeama Sarah Thompson’s contributions were invaluable in promoting transparency and accountability. She spearheaded efforts to establish Sierra Leone’s first open data portal, enabling citizens to access public information and hold government authorities accountable.

Her endeavors have not gone unnoticed, and she has earned numerous accolades for her groundbreaking work. In 2018, Yeama received the prestigious Fellowship of the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists, a recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field. She was also honored as a fellow of the Open Data Institute (ODI), a testament to her commitment to promoting transparency through open data initiatives.

Affectionately known as the “Open Data Mama” and “Media and Information Literacy Crusader,” Yeama Sarah Thompson’s impact on Sierra Leone’s media landscape and beyond is unparalleled. Her work has transcended the boundaries of journalism, media development, and gender equality, leaving an enduring legacy of progress and empowerment.

Beyond her professional achievements, Yeama finds balance and inspiration in her role as a mother to her two children, Mercy and Livingstone.

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