I watched Citi FM’s Umaru Sanda’s interview with Paul Adom of Metro TV on the Point Blank on Eye Witness. The interview was a few days back and it generated a lot of media frenzy with a variety of opinions.
While some touted Umaru Sanda’s prowess of interviewing, others felt Paul Adom’s experience and intellect came to bear on the day. Some advised Umaru to learn from Paul, and others still felt Paul seemed a bit agitated due to ‘young’ Umaru’s good line of questioning and persistence.
I observed that all through, except for after exchanging pleasantries, Paul had no smile on his face during the about 28 minutes interview. Was he angry? Should he be angry? What was making him angry, if he was angry? If he was not angry, then why did he wear a frown throughout the interview? Or, is that not a frown I saw? Anaaa, mebodam?
Anyway, Paul said something regarding some of the things he does on his show. He maintained that what his audiences see him do are done vastly by the likes of CNN, New York Times, and much of the American Media.
Dear Paul, the fact that America does something is not reason enough that Ghana should do the same.
The West might have set the pace but we have a duty to create our path and travel at our own pace. Just as the lecturer introduces the student to the course and the student has to investigate on their own, so also must we, as Ghanaian journalists, figure out for ourselves, what path we will take and what pace we will go.
The West can be a learning point, but the West is often the worst at walking the talk. We saw it when they colonized Africa. On one hand, they were preaching equality through their missionaries, and on the other hand, they were abusing our rights left, right, and center as though we were not fit to be human. At least, that’s what the history books say. Also, we’ve seen how America claims the throne of democracy and human rights and then turns back to blatantly abuse the rights of some citizens and practice a de-facto two-party state.
So America can say one thing about Professional journalism and do a totally different thing. It’s more like a hallmark of theirs. So, we are not obliged to learn from the West. We are reasonable to figure out the kind of media our nation needs now and sharpen our professionalism around it.
Or, do you suggest we jump on the bandwagon and do things that are wrong and inimical to our progress as a nation just because it is done in and by the Western World? Would that suggestion, if that’s what you’re postulating, not be tantamount to a tyranny of the minority? Or that rather a tyranny of the majority? Whichever one, is that tyranny? Don’t say you hate tyranny? So, is the fact that the ‘big’ media houses are all doing something not enough room for us to look at other possibilities of achieving the same results but doing going down the same drain?
Again, Paul mentioned that what he does on his program, Good Evening Ghana, is a form of Journalism, conforming to international industry standards. He mentioned that CNN runs editorials frequently on their channels. That’s OK.
But, if you’re running an opinion, Paul Adom, then you must agree that you’re liable to be biased to the facts of the matter as they matter to you and that, that is unacceptable in journalism according to Kovach and Rosenstiel in their book “Elements of Journalism.”
Journalism must be devoid of bias, and this is agreed upon by all scholars and doyens of the industry.
On this issue, Simmons (2021) agrees with Kovach and Rosenstiel that there is room for dissent in journalism and insists that journalists must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience, criticize each other and speak their minds, as you do quite often, Paul. But same Simmons re-echoes the school of thought shared by Kovach and his brother, as by many other scholars of the art of Journalism for centuries, that journalists must maintain an independence from those that they report on. As journalists, we are admonished to avoid devotion to certain groups or outcomes such as political partnerships, overt religious affiliation, and further, avoid enmity among ourselves.
Also, Dear Paul, no one is barring you from using your platform the way you want. But you do not have to be insulting and condescending to others who are also using their platforms the way they want. You have your style, that’s OK. Your style is not ok with some people, that’s OK. Some others have their styles, that too is OK. You don’t have to be OK with their style, and that’s fine.
Paul Adom, YOU ARE NOT THE HIGHEST STANDARD OF JOURNALISM IN THE COUNTRY, MUCH LESS IN THE WORLD. Just as you choose your way, allow others to choose theirs. Stop this god-factor posture you’ve taken in regards to the works of other journalists. That those you model your work after having been in the business for years does not mean their way is the only way or even the best way. Theirs is a way. What others do is also a way. Making everyone else’s way look like it is unprofessional because it is not your way is professional hegemony.
So long as the stories, as written by other journalists, have authors, are true, factual, of real events, people, and places, and there is evidence to prove claims asserted, it is journalism. You don’t have to like, just as others don’t have to like yours, for it to pass for journalism.
And about tools of analysis, you mentioned that your tools of analysis are the constitution, acts of parliament, and historical records. Ah well! Don’t academic and professional books mention balance, truth, accuracy, and the like? Have the news of values, also known as elements of news been thrown into the background now? Aren’t the documents you refer to the sources of information on these tools for analysis? How did secondary sources become tools for analysis?
Anyway, that’s just by the way. After all, I am just a student of Journalism. I am nowhere near what you’ve attained in the industry.
By the way, Paul, why are you often, only ferocious when it comes to journalistic pieces that expose some dirt on the Akufo-Addo government? What about the plenty unjournalistic and unintellectual work that goes on other channels by other journalists? Why is it that, most often, it is underfire-members of the NPP government who appear on your show? Is that not you running a clearance or cleaning department of the Government with your platform? Does that not qualify as PR journalism? And in your opinion, if you agree that what you do with your platform is PR reporting, albeit intellectual and all, is that not political propaganda? Do you believe that’s what Ghana, with our democracy, as nascent as it is, needs now for development, promotional journalism?
The facts show that from June to December 2020, 23% of programs on Ghanaian media spotted various infractions of inaccuracy.
“The violation of the accuracy principle was more pronounced on partisan or politically aligned radio stations. Show hosts and news anchors on these partisan radio stations showed little or less interest in subjecting their guests or interviewees to strict proof of claims made. In fact, in some cases, the show hosts were the perpetrators of false claims and unverified information.”
Since you seem like a journalistic vigilante, identifying and subjecting unprofessional journalism in the country to scrutiny and passing various judgments, would you kindly extend your tentacles beyond independent-minded journalists who howl at the Government and focus a bit of your sharp lenses on the partisan one who spew lies and disinformation live on air without recourse to facts and evidence?
And what do you mean by ambush-Journalism Paul? Define it? Does Mannaseh Azure ambush political officials in his writeups? Does Anas Aremeyaw do same? Now, if even in their investigative pieces, they do ambush politicians, or if the likes of Umaru Sanda and Bernard Avle do that in their shows, what is wrong with that? Is a public official not paid taxpayer’s money to be well vested and abreast of their work?
In any case, how do you catch a thief if you do not ambush them? Or is it your ‘editorial’ that this government and others before it, as well as their cronies, are not thieves? Have they not stolen enough from this country and its citizens? And is that not why journalism has to pounce on them to aid accountability.
I have more, but since “by their fruits, you shall know them” we move.
Source: Efo Korku Mawutor
The author is a final year student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism