Editorial: Good News Can Sell, Too
OUR celebrated columnist, Meri Nana Ama Danquah, wrote last Friday, “We spend so much time - particularly those of us in the media – talking and writing about what the government is not doing, that we lose sight of what it is doing. We complain so much about what Ghana is not, that we completely overlook what Ghana is.”
With newspapers and airwaves saturated with chronic diagnoses of what ills Ghana suffers from; little wonder President John A Kufuor and his administration it appears are suffocating under this thick, dark cloud of public perception.
It is easy, of course, to blame the media and the opposition for it. But, that is to exempt of blame the authority responsible for originating a lot of the good news about the country – government. As recalled in the column, Pulling No Punches, today, the word 'Spin' was originally an acronym, “Significant Progress In the News,” used by public relations specialists in Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defence Initiative in the mid-1980s. SDI had come under severe media criticism as technically impractical. 'Spin' was a public-relations attempt to counter these claims by issuing news releases showing steady progress. We are therefore urging Government to be more active in generating and disseminating good news.
But, there appears to be a resignation on the part of both media houses and Government that good news doesn't sell. The trouble is that journalists by nature do not like to work extra hard for good news. It must be delivered to them or, at least, they must be allowed easy access to it.
As our dip into our 1960 archives (see frontpage) shows, ever since Independence, some Ghanaian industries have been suffering and workers have been complaining about wages and salaries. Thus, in spite of the protection enjoyed by our textile industry at the time, it was still under distress. These are not exclusively Ghanaian phenomena. London Heathrow Airport was brought to a standstill last week because of workers' agitation over planned lay offs. German workers are still protesting over their relatively highly generous income.
It is not for nothing that we have reproduced in one of our Business Pages today and on our front page, prices of petroleum products going back 1982. What it shows is that politicians and the media cannot leave it to the Ghanaians struggling today to fill their fuel tanks to remember that they were worse of in the past. We need to remind them and soothe their current pain, if possible, with indications that the fundamentals, for a better tomorrow, are getting stronger and that there are new opportunities now for them to explore. Price increases will of necessity occur, but there are other indicators as well we need to be mindful of: Are the levels of increase going up or down? Is the economic base expanding? Are we improving in skills? Is access to health and education improving? Are we getting more from our elected officers? Are we feeling the dividends of good governance? Have the standards required of our leaders improved? Is the space for self-betterment being expanded or contracted? To all these questions, not even Prof Mills can answer no and believe it himself with a clear conscience. Yet, he says without opprobrium, “This is the time for all patriotic Ghanaians to rise above partisanship and prove to be nationalistic statesmen and women. This is the time for all of us to demonstrate that Ghana is bigger than any individual or any political party.” We will add: this is the time to shed the suffocating technicolour neo-colonial coat of self-deprecation. Let us celebrate ourselves. Let us free ourselves of the mental state of pessimism. The state of mind which keeps us wallowing inside the open spaces of self-degeneration, self-put-downs; that state of mind that places a psychological handicap on our great inner resolve to create, build and grow. That penchant to celebrate gloom and denigrate boom. That national feeling of despair which places a serious check on our patriotic fervour.
There is plenty to celebrate. Let us celebrate the good and in so doing critically examine how we can make the good better. For, there is no place like home. And Ghana is the best thing that ever happened to us.