The Herald last week received a rejoinder from the ex-Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) President, Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, to a story bothering on how scarce state resources were blown on some journalists during Mr. J. A. Kufuor’s regime, to have the administration look good in the eyes of the people of Ghana.
The story titled “Ex-GJA Boss Runs From ¢15billion Case”, sought to find out from her as the chairperson of a group called Editors Forum Ghana, whether her group drew some huge cash from the Ministry of Information in various tranches as captured in an audit report, a copy of which is currently in the possession The Herald.
In the course of doing the story, we did question Ms. Yeboah-Afari, to which she responded in the negatives and also pointed out that her group is different from the one mentioned in the audit report.
She also made it clear that she had on an earlier occasion, through a statement to the press, denied that her group drew money from the Information Ministry for propaganda purposes.
Her responses as well as what The Herald’s investigations arrived at were revealing and were captured and adequately published without any malice, whatever, to Ms. Yeboah-Afari or her group: Editors Forum Ghana (EFG).
Ours was, in all sincerity, an attempt to get to the canker of a government, putting some journalists on its payroll to milk the state’s coffers dry. We did not for once try to impugn Ms. Yeboah-Afari, as we don’t doubt her integrity.
Ms. Yeboah-Afari’s position was that her group had already responded to the issue of being mistaken for the beneficiaries of a government’s propaganda cash, as far back as August 2010, and that the issue as carried by The Herald days after the interview was a dead story being rehashed. This is neither here nor there. What may be a dead story in her head might not be so in some newsrooms.
So long as the story was not concocted or replete with wrong attributions, but it was as a result of an interview, we reserve the right to publish it even if it takes over twenty years to gather the facts.
Indeed, it is interesting to hear a respected journalist and an ex-editor of Ghanaian Times and more importantly an ex-GJA president, saying once she and her group had responded to issues of the bleeding of state coffers by a group of party apparatchiks, operating under the cloak of journalists, the audit report ceases to exist, irrespective of its dirty findings which could be a subject to further discoveries.
If Ms. Yeboah-Afari were training journalists, we wonder the kind of product she would have been producing to hold governments accountable to the people. The fact that details of the audit report is coming out now makes it more imperative for the issue to be reported.
The fact that the government has referred that document to the CID and the Attorney General’s Department for investigation, and possible prosecution, also makes it extremely important that the issues captured and groups or organizations mentioned in the report and whose contacts can be traced are talked to, to clear doubts. This is what we call investigative journalism.
Ms. Yeboah-Afari’s, beef that the headline was misleading, is also interesting as she is not the person who decides what title best suits as a headline of a story so long as it captures the issue at stake. Headlines must attract or provoke the interests of people if necessary.
The fact that we on The Herald called her on phone over the matter to seek answers to our questions on the issue even a year after her so-called press statement or conference during which she denied her group’s involvement in the issues of pillage of national resources, as captured in the audit report, means that her denial did not go far enough or at worse, it was buried.
As to the direct attack on Larry-Alans Dogbey, we will ignore it for now with the hope that it is not repeated. Not that we are afraid but the issue will be buried when we decide to talk about ourselves rather than the issue.
We are of the opinion that as an ex-GJA boss and one who has over 30 years experience in journalism, we thought that she would rather be worried that some charlatans if not maggots, have infested the profession, and practicing “Ransom Journalism”, where people, including well –meaning state institutions, are beaten into a state of subjugation just because a certain political party which holds money as the solution to man’s problems on earth is not in power to butter their bread even if that butter has to be stolen from the rest of Ghanaians.
They thus concoct lies and even misrepresent – pure dirty journalism – just to enable that political party to have access to power so as to steal national resources and share with them. This must be a source of worry to us, and a media house that strives to draw attention to this must be hailed.
People like Ms. Yeboah-Afari must, therefore, strive to eschew these ostrich-like tendencies and call a spade by its name to clear these charlatans or maggots from feeding fat on the conscience of this country.
Operations of these people must make you cry for Ghanaian journalism – and Ghana. Knowledge is not limited to the grey- haired person. You’re either stuck to the “old school” journalism or you are behaving like an ostrich. We will be watching you!