Opinions of Tue, 21 Jan 2014102
Unflattering photo of Komla; Ghanaweb at its worst
Ghanaweb, is by all accounts, a reputable website; over the years, it has educated, informed and entertained Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians alike on a wide range of issues running the gamut from the social to the political.
Much as I enjoy reading the news on Ghanaweb and occasionally posting articles, there are other times when I wonder if the site flouts journalism ethics without due consideration for the subject under discussion. And I could cite instances when journalism rules were jettisoned to bolster my claim.
But let me begin with one instance where I think Ghanaweb obviously went overboard. This occasion stands out for its egregiousness and gross lack of sensitivity. A photo accompanying a story, ‘Komla had too much pressure on him at BBC’ about the death of Komla Dumor, the Ghanaian born BBC television anchor/presenter was not just inappropriate, it was ill-timed, crass and completely unprofessional.
The photo in question shows the bespectacled Komla in an apparent festive mood – celebrating a birthday, wedding anniversary, Christmas -- with a tray. Sitting invitingly on it are three thick slabs of steak/meat. Standing with one hand holding a bottle of wine and the other hand around Komla is his bosom friend, Herbert Mensah, the former director of Asante Kotoko football club.
Tragic as Komla’s death is, it is traumatizing with this photo; Komla is reported to have succumbed to a heart ailment and to show him as a carnivorous hedonist is beyond the pale. As would be expected, the photo elicited unsavory comments from a cadre of fleckless fiends who inexplicably drew parallels between the consumption of red meat and heart attacks.
Doctors they are not, these fleckless yahoos; Komla could have died from something entirely unrelated to the consumption of red meat and alcohol. The coroner will soon reveal the cause of death, so there is no need to assign reasons for Komla’s untimely demise.
The one lingering question here is why would Ghanaweb elect to run a photo that did the late Komla no ounce of good? The site has a trove of Komla’s photos that could have been used, at least one that would have been less crass and more positive.
I dare say without any inhibitions that whoever at Ghanaweb decided to run that unflattering photo of Komla did so deliberately, perhaps to suit his/her dimwitted impulses. Or worse still, Ghanaweb has a hidden agenda to tarnish the image of the famed broadcaster.
Newsrooms are tiny fiefdoms where jealousy and envy abound as Komla attested to on his Facebook posting prior to his death. A reporter who gets the juicy assignments as Komla did with BBC – covering the funeral of Mandela, the World Cup, the Davos (Switzerland) meeting of the world’s richest nations and the list goes on - would not unexpectedly draw the ire of his/her colleagues. So, who knows what exactly doomed Komla.
I have always asserted that Ghanaweb has a huge problem - its abysmal lack of editorial supervision. The company has accumulated huge financial resources and thus is capable of hiring the services of competent editors to sort out the mess that is fast ruining its hard earned reputation.
We will like to apologise to the Dumor family if in excess of duty, we have published something inappropriate.
Indeed, what we sought to say about the Journalist, colleague and friend, Komla Dumor, through the published picture shouldn’t bear suspicion of a hidden agenda. We only displayed a moment of happiness of him spending quality time with his friend, Herbert Mensah.
We are not doctors or forensic pathologists but just a team running an open online portal and what we do is to give a voice to the people including the ones in direct contrast with our media.
If I remember well, our editorial team worked over night to put online Komla Dumor’s biography and a short profile swiftly with exact ultimate respect as it was done for other personalities we lost like the former Vice President of Ghana Alhaji Aliu Mahama, the former President J.E.A Mills and Mr. Nelson Mandela. For us, he was a colleague and a friend and an example to follow.
At this moment, we are in no position to debate or argue about what we do well or badly but to join in the moment of sadness for a man who has left his family at the tender age of 41, which is completely devastating and undeserving. May your soul rest in peace Komla.