03.09.2002 Feature Article

"Time Wasters"

Time Wasters
03.09.2002 LISTEN

There is a beautiful scene in the movie " A Beautiful Mind" starring Russell Crow as John Nash, the Nobel Prize winner and Schizophrenic Professor of Economics at Princeton University. John Nash (known for the Nash equilibrium theory) is approached by a stranger after a lecture; the Professor turns to one of his students and asks whether she sees the man standing beside him (to be real). Earlier scenes had established that John Nash who suffered from severe delusions was beginning to emerge from the delusions and had learned to control the condition to some extent. However, when he his approached by a stranger, he makes sure that the person is not one of those delusional characters. In this particular scene the stranger who approached him had a piece of good news for him: He had been chosen to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics. I have been wondering if this is how I should approach news items I read from Ghanaian newspapers and web sites and I have come to the firm conclusion that it should really be the case. This is because SOMETIMES, they present us with a lot of "delusional characters", accusations which cannot be accounted for, assertions and claims which turn out not to be true or completely refuted. Unlike John Nash however, I really do not have anywhere to turn to for confirmation. So my main aim for writing this piece is draw your attention to these flaws so that together we can make demand for change. Let's look at some examples. I am taking all my examples strictly from Ghanaweb (which means that you can confirm these stories from the News Archives) and for the purposes of this article and time I am limiting myself to the month of August 2002. On August 26 we read that "Controversial And Corrupt Judge Dismissed" and a day after that, August 27 the headline was "Corrupt & Controversial" Judge NOT dismissed" Isn't it interesting? It is the same news re-worded and a few words like” NOT" and changing "And" to "&” had been added. If this is what good journalism is all about then the guy who sat beside me during my O'level exams can claim mastery of it. If the first news had stated that the source of the story was unconfirmed, I certainly will not take any issue with that. If you’re not yet convinced, how about this; On August 17, there was the all too often headline "CPP At Loggerheads With Dr Nduom" then on August 19 there was a classic case of good journalism by Ghanaweb, allowing Kwesi Nduom to respond to the allegation so the headline read "Minister on Ghanaweb SIL!. Don’t applaud yet, just before we could happily go to sleep, another one hits the headlines on August 21 "CPP youth condemn Nduom's statement" This really wouldn't have mattered if a note or a reference had been made to the effect that on August 19, the minister had refuted those allegations. This was dead news. We didn’t need this. A waste of precious moneymaking time. I hope by this time you've been able to get the broad picture. But that is not all, on August 07 there was this news item "Foreign Minister spends 300 Million on furniture" and then on August 15 there was a rejoinder disputing that "REJOINDER: Foreign Minister Spends C300 Million On Furniture" The good thing about this news was that, it was clearly marked as a rejoinder and there was a link to the earlier story so that one can make sense of the story. As for what was in the rejoinder, your guess is as right as mine. Let’s take a look at August 16th, the headline was "Wuaku Commission Discharges ex-Minister" come August 17 the headlined changed to "Yakubu & Co Have Not Been Discharged - Commission" Isn't it strange that in less than 24 hours we have one report discharging Yakubu and then another one directly contradicting the earlier one yet no one apologizes for feeding us wrong fila. What are these news items for? Filing in the blanks? Did you read about the report that JAK had commended Malaysian firms in Ghana? What became of it? On August 03 “I Never Commended Any Malaysian Firm – JAK” Is Someone putting words into the mouth of the president? How about the news that the director general of SSNIT is paid 90 million cedis? On August 08 let’s read what became of it “Director-General is NOT paid 90 cedis million – Chairman” This is just the month of August and sad to say, I haven’t even exhausted my list. Let me just list a couple of them without details for you to see how enormous the problem is: August 01 “CPP To Align With NPP in 2004?” You know what has become of this news item don’t you? Let’s see August 15 “I Was Never Arrested - NDC Secretary” really? Obviously it depends on what the word arrest means to you. How about this one on August 13 “I was questioned for 5 minutes – JJ” and August 28, 2002 “Rawlings' Cars Are Not Bullet Proof – Adjaho” And the list goes on. Can’t we just get it right once? So what is going on here? Is somebody just making up stories to waste our time or what? What have become of good professional journalism? Trust me, something is wrong. However, if readers don’t demand what is good, we will continue to be fed with lies. They are wasting our precious time so let’s tell them and move on.

Will Kweku Osei Poku Maryland

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