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Opinions Wed, 11 Sep 2013

RE: Akufo-Addo's Victory And

A REPLY TO MANASSEH AZURE AWUNI’s

RE: Akufo-Addo's Victory And 'Esther' John Mahama's 2016 Agenda.

The essences of journalism are numerous but none of which must be ignored. I have always admired true journalism and those who practise as such. Even more fulfilling is the fact that there are people who still believe in it and discharge their responsibilities therein as journalist. That is how come I will forever revere distinguish personalities like Raymond Archer for his role in unveiling hitherto obscene activities both within government and the private sector, Anas Armeyaw Anas who is in the business of true investigative journalism, hence the nation wide recognition he has garnered for himself. I salute you.

The danger, however, is that there is the possible temptation of persons eager to carve a niche for themselves to miss the point about journalism. In other jurisdictions pro- government journalists have identified themselves as such and vice versa. The difficulty, perhaps the most irritating observation I have made is that in Ghana unlike other countries, journalist hide behind neutrality to prosecute and perpetuate their own agenda with all ethics of professional journalism thrown to the wind. Manasseh Azure personifies this description and fits well within this category of journalists.

It is not without any consideration of the possible attack that I’m likely to suffer from Manasseh’s sympathisers for writing this piece but for the love of transparency, accountability and the innate desire to see to the obedience of good journalistic standard being maintained in this country.

It is for this reason and others that I felt compelled to measure the content of your recent article titled AKUFO-ADDO's VICTORY AND 'ESTHER' JOHN MAHAMA's 2016 AGENDA to some worldwide journalistic guidelines (Marking Scheme) and international best practise. Now let us consider some of them:

1. JOURNALISM'S FIRST OBLIGATION IS TO THE TRUTH

“Democracy depends on citizens having reliable, accurate facts put in a meaningful context. Journalism does not pursue truth in an absolute or philosophical sense, but it can--and must--pursue it in a practical sense. This "journalistic truth" is a process that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts. Then journalists try to convey a fair and reliable account of their meaning, valid for now, subject to further investigation. Journalists should be as transparent as possible about sources and methods so audiences can make their own assessment of the information. Even in a world of expanding voices, accuracy is the foundation upon which everything else is built--context, interpretation, comment, criticism, analysis and debate. The truth, over time, emerges from this forum”.

Manasseh I failed to see the truthfulness in your article regarding a simple remark John Jinapore made. For how can you simply take issue with the Deputy Minister when all he did was to indicate the government preparedness for 2016 elections? The yardstick for judging the good works of President Mahama is only if he is able to deliver on his promises to the good people of Ghana. Therefore it is apposite to the fact that his fate in 2016 is being decided right after the Supreme Court declaration if not earlier. It is absolutely unforgivable on your part to tarnish the image of a deputy minister of state simply because of an innocuous statement. Whether you like it or not the preservation or removal of President Mahama in 2016 depends on his performance from now till then. I called it the silent campaign.

2. ITS FIRST LOYALTY IS TO CITIZENS

“While news organizations answer to many constituencies, including advertisers and shareholders, the journalists in those organizations must maintain allegiance to citizens and the larger public interest above any other if they are to provide the news without fear or favor. This commitment to citizens first is the basis of a news organization's credibility, the implied covenant that tells the audience the coverage is not slanted for friends or advertisers.

Commitment to citizens also means journalism should present a representative picture of all constituent groups in society. Ignoring certain citizens has the effect of disenfranchising them. The theory underlying the modern news industry has been the belief that credibility builds a broad and loyal audience, and that economic success follows in turn. In that regard, the business people in a news organization also must nurture--not exploit--their allegiance to the audience ahead of other considerations.”

I often wonder if your loyalty is to the people of Ghana or certain groups of people in Ghana. The praise singing of Akuffo Addo for making in your opinion the most memorable statement in your life is most revealing to say the least. What happens to the credibility of the President Mahama that was tarnished indiscriminately and blatantly on force charges that never saw the doors of the Court? Did you not listen to the President’s broadcast to Ghanaians on 29th August, 2013? How about the legacy of the Asomdwe Hene, the late President Mills for conceding numerous electoral defeat.? Unless of course there was nothing inspiring about it in your opinion. I really dread your sense of loyalty. 3. IT MUST SERVE AS AN INDEPENDENT MONITOR OF POWER

“Journalism has an unusual capacity to serve as watchdog over those whose power and position most affects citizens. The Founders recognized this to be a rampart against despotism when they ensured an independent press; courts have affirmed it; citizens rely on it. As journalists, we have an obligation to protect this watchdog freedom by not demeaning it in frivolous use or exploiting it for commercial gain”.

Manasseh by all means criticises but please for heaven’s sake be fair and balanced. You gain nothing by being antagonistic towards one set of political party in the name of investigative journalism just to please some powers that be. It is simply not fair! It is an affront against the very principle governing your conduct as a journalist and an offence to the very notion of the otherwise gallant profession. Completely absent in your article is the most cherished elements of proportionality and comprehensiveness.

4. IT MUST STRIVE TO MAKE THE SIGNIFICANT INTERESTING AND RELEVANT

“Journalism is storytelling with a purpose. It should do more than gather an audience or catalogue the important. For its own survival, it must balance what readers know they want with what they cannot anticipate but need. In short, it must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant. The effectiveness of a piece of journalism is measured both by how much a work engages its audience and enlightens it. This means journalists must continually ask what information has most value to citizens and in what form. While journalism should reach beyond such topics as government and public safety, a journalism overwhelmed by trivia and false significance ultimately engenders a trivial society”.

It appears your article was informed by the singular harmlessly patriotic caption by Jon Jinapore rather than the failed attempt of hiding behind Kwaku Sakye Addo’s statement as motivation and false belief. I failed to see the significance in this scathing attack on government official.” The battle of 2016 begins today” offers not only a descriptive account of governmenance and social responsibility but also an admission of political accountability which the citizenry owe a duty to hold the government to. Thus an obligation to improve the lots of the people and meet their aspirations. Hence the very attempt to offer a dwarf interpretation with a rather skewed and warped logic begs the question of the true motivation behind your write up.

The kernel of insight of the piece was exemplified in the lack of proper analysis of political comments. Every proper and decent political analysis contextualizes political discourse historically and institutionally. Therefore, when comments and suggestions are divorced from context their subsequent analyses become synonymous to the fruit of the poisonous tree. The cardinal aspiration of journalism and a distinguished journalist is to provide certain unique characteristics with which he would be identified and become distinct not only in his practise but also from existing social norms and standards. The reference to the ethnic background of the President as being a stumbling hurdle in his way to ascending the throne in the NDC fraternity is most unfortunate and at best irresponsible. I struggle to establish the necessary nexus between that and his ability to meet the aspirations of Ghanaians as captured in the statement of his appointee John Jinapore.

In fact it is more probable for people of his (the President) ethnic origin to progress without any hindrance in the NDC party better compared to the main opposition party in Ghana now. The president demonstrated the actualisation of this possibility on countless platforms as being the most active Vice President in the history of Ghana. Same cannot be said about the late Vice President Aliu Mahama (may Almighty Allah rest his soul).

I asked where the proportionality is and balanced of analysis? What happens to journalists not embellishing trivialities over concrete issues bothering welfare of Ghanaians? Journalism detached from professionalism becomes personal and vindictive.

Columnist: Dawud, Ali