23.08.2002 Sports News

FEATURE: Sport Reporters Need To Do Their Homework:

By Kwadwo Mensah
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...Too Many Errors

I find it alarming that some reporters who cover sports in Ghana do not bother to cross check information they receive nor do they try to ensure that simple yet important things such as the abbreviations and acronyms that they use in their reports, truly represent the entities to which they refer. In the recent article “NSC Boss Blames GAA for Funds Freeze”, in Graphic Sports, the acronym GAA is said to stand for “Ghana Athletics Association”. Unfortunately, no such organization exists in Ghana. The acronym should have read GAAA, which stands for Ghana Amateur Athletics Association, the governing body of athletics in Ghana. Nevertheless, even more confusing, is the fact that, the Ghana Athletes Association is already using that acronym, “GAA”. A check of past communiqué from both entities over the past six months will confirm that the GAAA is the governing body to which the article in Graphic Sports was trying to refer to and not GAA. In addition, the reporter in that article stated that the chairman of the NSC (National Sports Council) “debunked the allegation of corruption made by Andrew Owusu, the newly-appointed member of the African Athletics Commission, against the GAA. He stressed that the problem between the IAAF and GAA is not over any alleged embezzlement”. That latter statement is without merit and an indication that what Owusu and his fellow athletes have been saying is still being misconstrued. In all the articles that at least Owusu has written, not once has he charged the GAAA with financial embezzlement. Rather, Owusu has, on more than one occasion called the shoddy and opaque selection process corrupt. That is a very different from financial wrongdoing. Both officials and reporters need to clarify their statements and be more ethical in reporting by using quotes or other forms of evidence to back up statements. Readers who read that article may have been led to believe that the most of the problems within athletics is due to the lack of facilities. That is partly true. However, what has been conveniently left out is that, our numerous problems are mostly due to the mismanagement of athletics. What good are new facilities, if organization is non-existent? If the idea of facilities will solve our problems, then Togo, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso should be fairing better than Ghana in athletics. After all, the Chairman of the GAAA has proposed to Ghanaians the idea of hosting our national championships in neighboring countries. If new facilities will make us “world conquerors”, then why can none of our immediate neighbors, who have better facilities, boast of the caliber of athletes that Ghana has? Perhaps, its time they looked at the numerous articles written by the athletes. The athletes have made it a habit of providing readers with concrete details, rational and sources such as references to past quotes by the entities in question. In many cases, their views are well stated and supported by sound reasoning based on facts. For quotes, they actually cite the source (newspaper/internet address), article title, date and the author. None of these athletes is a journalist by profession. Yet, the information they provide is more reliable than that provided by some of our so-called “journalists”. The issues and allegations on the table are serious. Therefore, printed material must to be screened for objectivity and most of all credibility by the authors involved. I believe it is one of the fundamental rules in journalism.

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