DR. A. K Agyei's article on the above topic which appeared on www.ghanaweb.com on December 23.2005, sufficiently demonstrates how JOY FM's “Deceptive” Morning Show packaged as “Super”, has descended so low in the Ghanaian media arena.
Sometime ago, I wrote that the Ghanaian media, with the exception of a handful – (Ghana News Agency, Daily Graphic, TV3, Ghanaian Times, Accra Daily Mail, Crusading Guide, among a few) was losing its national identity, deviating from its mandate as prescribed by the constitution.
Joy FM's Komla Dumor is not a bad presenter. I believe he's a nice human being. But on the job, he has been very selective during the interview process . Right-thinking people can easily deduce his biases, and how unfair he can be during interviews.
Sometimes, he appears to be an interrogator, or a “Judge Judy”, who will not accept a simple answer from the interviewee.
I listened to the so-called “Esseku Tape”, and the live interview Komla had with the former NPP National Chairman. Dumor was not fair to the old man. It was glaring, that Komla wanted to confuse him by playing on semantics.
Esseku is a wise man, a 71-year old politician who has the right to grief, even if he uses the wrong platform. Esseku answers a question like a politician, the same way Dumor should have questioned him as an interviewer. Raymond Archer also played a fast one on Harona Esseku, and that was "aggressive journalism".
Dumor was very militant during the interview , repetitive, and appeared to be appealing to some sensibilities. That was wrong, bad journalism by all standards.
On the same segment, Komla interviewed his “partner in crime” – Raymond Archer. To JOY FM, Komla, and Archer, Ghanaians do not need them to define the word – “kickback” , as they can figure out what a "Kickback" is.
"Kickback" is not a difficult one in this ever-growing world of words. Why the confusion, and waste of precious air time? I know of only four words that have been added to the dictionary in 2005.
1.Infosnacking- checking emails, sports scores, or shopping online while at work. 2.Portafuel- meals easily transported for on-the run society. 3.Perfect storm- a coinage that describes a national psyche in a year of natural disasters. 4.Podcast- digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar programs available for download on the internet to a personal audio player.
There was no "Kickback" on this new list of words, which suggests that Ghanaians do understand, and those who do not , can easily ask a friend or relative to explain what it actually means.
Throughout the “much talk-about Esseku Tape”, the old man did not mention “Kickback”. With all the fairness it deserves, Esseku was commenting on monies that should have been sent to the Party headquarters, but were being directed to the Castle.
Archer, supported by Komla tried very hard to call it a “Kickback”. The old man was very soft on Komla.
When he took his turn, Daniel Botwe, the Minister of Information, was very forthcoming. He was able to counteract some of Komla's “manipulation of thoughts”. Botwe was emphatic, unlike Eseeku, and was not stingy with the truth.
Botwe was able to face the “media trial” being prosecuted by Joy FM, and presided over by our new supreme court “judge” - Komla Dumor.
I am trying very hard not to lambast Komla , his excesses notwithstanding. He does a nice job interviewing foreign dignitaries. The same cannot be said when interviewing some Ghanaian officials. He assumes the role of a "moral giant", a man without blemish.
If the media capitalizes on any opportunity to disgrace a government in power, the assumption would be that future governments would be unduly scrutinized, irrespective of their achievements. That makes a nation ungovernable, affects growth, and the basic tenets of democracy.
How many times have interviews been conducted with people in charge of the presidential initiatives on cotton, textile, oil palm, etc? as well as how Ghanaians feel about the present economic situation, how people are taking advantage of the enabling environment to improve themselves, tertiary education for the deaf and dumb- what is being done?, among other pressing national needs such as a national policy on the aged and the physically-challenged?
A section of the media is failing in these areas of national concern. JOY FM is one of them, though it has been fulfilling part of its social responsibilities. But it can do better, having been around for 10 years.
We can learn from this .During the great depression which hit the United States in the 1930s, the American media assumed a national identity, and became part of the solution, educating the masses on tolerance , and outlining plans that can help create jobs for the people. That was a media filled with 'right-thinking” people, ready to help their country transform its problems into success.
In the Ghanaian situation, a section of the media has been full of acrimony, and ready to sink the ship destined to deliver the goods. What a Shame!
Joy FM can encourage internal exchanges (if it is not already doing that), with the view to helping so-called journalists in the likes of Dumor and Dogbe, learn from Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Nana Yaa Ofori-Atta. Admittedly, presentation differences are obvious, but professional experience can be shared to ensure neutrality.
In the early 1990s, when a journalist from the Daily Graphic wrote: that “Col. Kpodo, Commandant of the Military Academy, has urged the military to purge itself of self-seeking officers”, it raised eye brows, with many telephone calls directed from the seat of government to Daily Graphic's editorial department.
Col. Kpodo challenged the publication and Daily Graphic for misrepresenting what he actually said.
An internal investigation was instituted, notes were compared, so were recordings, after which Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh, then News Editor, recommended that the journalist be sacked. That recommendation was carried through, to reassure the public of Daily Graphic's avowed responsibility to peddle the truth.
The journalist involved defended himself, saying his story was based on inference, but Boadu-Ayeboafoh insisted that Daily Graphic does not tolerate imaginary and sensational stories, and that the termination would guide other journalists to write about the truth.
This is similar to what Raymond Archer is engaged in now, a supposition carefully crafted with the twin aim of selling a newspaper , and embarrass a government in power. The truth is that, Esseku did not use the word - "Kickback", it was a figment of Archer's imagination.
A section of the media landscape in Ghana still seems to be dominated by people who behave like moral judges. They act as prophets ordained by God to determine what is right and wrong, modern day adversaries of falsehood and back-stabbers. Is this a typical Ghanaian attitude being injected into the inky fraternity? There should be an end to this deceptive agenda.
We have one Ghana, a peaceful nation still paying the price for being poor, and yet making the effort to stabilize its economy and make life better through a new style of leadership. A leadership of tolerance and focus.
But as we explore ways to free ourselves from internal problems, some of which are made possible by external shocks, we do not need the media to play the role of a "trouble shooter". The media should be part of the solution , by educating the people in a more functional way.
What is emerging now is that, part of the destabilizing factor in an otherwise democratic environment is characterized by these two bad boys of the trade – Komla Dumor and Raymond Archer. I will save the list for now, as this is not an attempt to stiffle the media. Constructive criticisms are very important in any civilized environment.
Thanks to Dr. A. K Agyei for generating these thoughts. History, they say, would judge us from “the very words that cometh out of our mouth”, and what we did to help humanity.
That Komla Dumor usually refers to the United States as an example of competence and democracy is no fluke.
The underlining truth is that, in the midst of problems, citizens of the United States became united and fought the common enemy- of hunger, unemployment, colonization, inequality, injustice , poverty, among others.
The media also played an important role to facilitate that change, for which Komla and Co. are proud of. That's a lesson for all of us since it is an account of the past that has become a source of reference, an achievement Komla himself still relish, and refers to as an excellent example for humanity.
"Who the Cap fits.......................
Author- Ato Aidoo, former associate at the features desk, Daily Graphic, Accra , Ghana. He now lives in Evans, GA. email: [email protected]