Daily Graphic Descends Into Gutter JournalismBy Ekua Kwansema
7/8/2009 11:57:25 PM -
Just pick up the Daily Graphic edition of Tuesday July 7, 2009 and turn to the page 15 (Politics) and you would see a story planted by Ransford Tetteh, Editor of Daily Graphic which would make your stomach turn. In fact you cannot believe that Ransford Tetteh could descend that low by sending a reporter from a credible state-owned newspaper like Daily Graphic to cover such a bogus story. The story is headlined 'Supporters pledge solidarity with Asabee'. The story has a huge picture of Asabee and his wife exchanging so-called pleasantries with some of their supporters at his house. And this silly story took almost half of the page.
This bogus story has it that some supporters of Asabee trooped to his huge mansion which has some question marks as to how he funded it at Kormantse to express their solidarity for his recen t encounter with the national security. I have to read the story twice to ask myself where the beef is. If some friends of Asabee had gone to his house to express solidarity with him should Daily Graphic waste its resources to send a reporter and a cameraman to cover this nonsense? Where is the priority of Ransford Tetteh and the Daily Graphic? Where is their sense of journalism? This is indeed gutter journalism at its best and even some of the mushroom newspapers being funded by the NPP would take a pass to this cheap propaganda.
I am inclined to believe that Ransford Tetteh, a protégé of the NPP has seriously lost his focus and do not know how to hound for news. Mr. Tetteh would have done Ghanaians a lot of good if he had sent the reporter to capture Asabee's huge mansion and interviewed Asabee to find out how he was able to build that huge mansion as a minister. Asabee's huge mansion which has even some NPP die-hards fuming as to how he funded it with his meager salary as a minister and why he decided to site that edifice which looks like a castle by the roadside to attract prying eyes should have been a better story for readers and the Ghanaian public than this cheap 'PR' gambit by Ransford Tetteh.
Yes, it is true that Asabee was prevented from travelling, therefore, he feels peeved. In the year 2000 after the NPP had won the elections, Kufour's government gave a list of NDC officials who were to be prevented from trave ling outside the country to the BNI. If Daily Graphic which existed at that time did not see anything wrong with that, I am surprised that they now see something wrong with what happened to Asabee. Imagine the huge public outcry if Daily Graphic in 2000 had published a story about friends of E. T. Mensah expressing solidarity with him after his release by the BNI.
Ransford Tetteh who is well-known by almost everybody at the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) to be in the deep pockets of the NPP and to a large extent Asabee should not use state resources like the Daily Graphic to pursue an agenda for a friend. If you read the political pages of the Daily Graphic you would always see planted stories that are very sympathetic to the NPP. Ransford should not deceive himself that people are not reading between the lines. They are!
Less than two months ago, President Mills embarked on a tour in the Upper East and West Regions, but it is sad to say that all the stories on those visits were pushed by Ransford Tetteh to the centre spread. A whole president of the country embarks on a regional tour and not a single story was seen on the front page. Please do not give me that lame excuse that the Daily Graphic has an editorial policy whereby the heads of the various sections of the newspaper go to conference everyday to select stories that are to be published the next day. I am reliably informed that of all those who go to the editorial conference the NPP has paid sympathizers who always look out for its interest.
The Ghana @ 50 Report is out with so much information that Ghanaians need to know. The report has to be serialized for Ghanaians to know what actually happened to their hard earned money used by the Ghana @ 50 Secretariat headed by Dr. Wereko-Brobby. Yet, Ransford Tetteh and some of his clique at Daily Graphic have avoided that report because it stinks to the highest heavens and also exposes one of the biggest mismanagement that the nation has ever witnessed. In brief, Ransford Tetteh sees that if he touches that report it would expose the hypocrisy and corrupt tendencies of his NPP colleagues hence his decision to play around it.
Currently it is only the Daily Dispatch (Ben Ephson) which is delving into the Ghana @ 50 Report and giving Ghanaians more insight as to role played by Kwadwo Mpiani and Wereko-Brobby in throwing dust into the eyes of Ghanaians and seriously raping the country by indulging in questionable deals and malpractices that would make even Satan envious, while the so-called leading newspaper in Ghana, Daily Graphic with an array of good reporters who have the appetite and nose for good stories is sitting on the fence just waiting to be invited by companies and institutions to cover 'He said, she said assignments'. Ransford Tetteh who always laments that journalism standard in Ghana has fallen does not see the need to have the Daily Graphic delve into the Ghana @ 50 Report.
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There was breaking news in parliament just this week about the walkout by NPP parliamentarians about the alleged $5,000 bribery to each NPP parliamentarian who voted for the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone last year. This bribery allegation was first made by NPP Parliamentarian for the Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, Mr. Appiah-Ofori who is well-known as an anti-corruption crusader, but hammered on by NDC's Mr. Twumasi-Appiah when an NPP parliamentary sarcastically stated that he hoped the $300 million IDA loan facility under review at the time would not be used for tea and kyikyinga. But it is interesting to note that Ransford Tetteh was only interested in publishing the walkout by the NPP parliamentarians but has not seen the need to send a reporter to investigate the authenticity of the bribery allegation. Even when the NPP parliamentarians have sent Mr. Appiah to court for attempting to defame them, Ransford Tetteh does not want to have anything to do with this serious issue which could put the integrity of the ex-president, officials of Vodafone and many NPP officials into question. Yet, Ransford has 'dodged' such an explosive story but only publishes stories in which the NPP puts the NDC government on the defense.
The Minister of Transport, Mr. Mike Hammah last week made a very strong allegation against the Kufour government. Ex-President Kufour told Ghanaians last year that his government had allocated $90 million for the rehabilitation of the country's rail transport sector. But according to Mr. Hammah, his several months of investigations into the files and accounts of the ministry have so far turned empty as he cannot trace the whereabouts of the $90 million allocated to the railway sector. This is the story that Ransford Tetteh should have jumped on. Ransford Tetteh should have sent a team of Daily Graphic reporters to investigate this serious allegation to prove whether what the minister said was true or otherwise. But as usual Ransford Tetteh has turned a deaf ear to this hot button issue.
I said earlier on that the Daily Graphic led by its Editor, Ransford Tetteh has lost its focus. Today if you buy the Daily Graphic which was established more than 50 years ago, it has no credible news that is worth reading. The paper is mostly filled with advertisement and nothing worth spending your 70 pesewas on. Most of the feature articles are all tilted in favour of the opposition NPP. Again my mole at the Daily Graphic had informed me that any feature article very critical of the NPP or the Kufour regime is always shelved. It is worth noting that Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, former Editor of the Daily Graphic but now General Manager of the GCGL who did not write feature articles whilst the NPP was in power has suddenly found his pen and writing articles softly hitting the NDC from time to time. Truly this NPP mafia that has captured the Daily Graphic has gradually gained the upperhand as they have assiduously worked to put a positive spin even on the bad things that the NPP did.
Just start reading the Daily Graphic editorial column and you would see Ransford Tetteh at his best. Sometimes Ransford would briefly comment on some negative thing that the NPP did, but would peg it against something the NDC did in the past and then end by warning the Mills' government. Very classic! You do not need to be a sage to know how hard Ransford is working to keep the 'soli' to flow from the NPP to his lap. And you also do not need to go to a journalism school to know where this guy butters his bread.
The Daily Graphic Foreign Desk is the worse group. With the advent of the Internet, news cycle changes every 30 minutes, yet most of the foreign news published by the Daily Graphic is always two days old. There is nobody to check for news updates, which gives the impression that when the foreign desk group pulls stories in the morning they just run with it without checking for updates even though GCGL has Internet access 24/7.
The Daily Graphic edition of Wednesday July 8, 2009 has a story which is of national importance and should have been the lead story of the day. The story is about 11 Oil Marketing Companies (OMC) that owe Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) huge sums of money since 2008, which is affecting the smooth operations of TOR. The story has it that TOR has decided to cut of fuel supplies to these companies, but Ransford Tetteh did not see the need to highlight such a story. This story has so many implications because the fuel cut to these 11 OMC's out of a total of 56 could go a long way in creating fuel shortages in some petrol filling stations leading to long queues by motorists in certain parts of the country. Does this story have some political fallout? How would Ghanaians take it if they start forming long queues to buy petrol? Instead Ransford Tetteh buried this important story in the centre spread and rather trumpeted on the 10,000 policemen and women who would be deployed to keep law and order during US President Obama's visit. Deploying police personnel to keep law and order during the visit of a head of state is no news that should be the lead story of the day. It is something that should be expected, yet Ransford Tetteh who is being returned unopposed as GJA President is the only person in this world who does not think this is no news worth reading. Ransford who has clearly lost his focus and is leading the Daily Graphic into a ditch because he is there to serve the parochial political interest of his party men and women of the NPP should be stopped by personnel of the Daily Graphic. There are many silent voices and eyes at the Daily Graphic critically looking at how Ransford Tetteh is running the place. Many have not forgotten the look and intense agony and pain Ransford went through when the NPP lost the election. They recall how a whole editor who fused himself into the 2008 elections looked confused, dejected, beaten, battered and let down when the NPP lost the elections. Some even say he rather than Nana Akufo-Addo lost the presidential elections.
In 2000 when the NPP came to power they made so much noise about the debt owed by TOR.. When NPP took over the total debt owed by TOR was GH¢276 million. It was the debt inherited by the NPP that gave Kufour the ammunition to increase the prices of petroleum products in Ghana . The explanation given during the increment was that it was meant to repay the debt owed by TOR. Eight years after leaving office, the TOR debt has rather ballooned to GH¢441 million. Positive change? Of course not! This should have been a fine story for Ransford to probe, but he has decided to let it pass.
But what struck me was when the Ministry of Energy paid huge sums of money to defray some of the TOR debt left by the NPP; this story was buried by Ransford Tetteh. This should have been a big story, yet Ransford Tetteh buried the story in one of the less read pages of the Daily Graphic. Is this the Daily Graphic that we knew? Is this a paper that wants Ghanaians want to read? I bet no.
Indeed the Daily Graphic needs to put its house in order. The paper is i n serious disarray, lacking editorial and organizational focus. Thanks to the NPP and Ransford most of the reporters and middle-level management have been divided under party lines, therefore, the paper is not making any headway. Is it any wonder why all news vendors who sell newspapers by the roadside always put Daily Guide on top of all the newspapers even though Daily Guide is equally a trash paper with no credibility? I bet had it not been the advertisement that sustains the paper, it would have been worse off in terms of revenue generation than the Ghanaian Times.
By Ekua Kwansema