President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called for a concerted effort on the part of all stakeholders – the government, the media and the general public alike – to eliminate the phenomenon of fake news from the media landscape in the country, as it poses a threat to the very fabric of Ghanaian society.
The president made this exhortation on Saturday (24 October 2020) when he delivered the keynote address at an anniversary ball and awards night to mark the 70th anniversary of the major state-owned newspaper, the Daily Graphic, under the theme “Seven Decades of Influencing National Development and Building Brands”, at the Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra.
Concerted effort against fake news
The president noted that technological advancements in the world have brought about vast improvements to the speed at which news reaches the world.
However, he said, this had also brought with it some clear and present dangers which ought to be addressed, such the advent of “fake news”.
“It is great that we no longer have to wait till tomorrow morning to find out what happened yesterday, thanks to technology. But again, thanks to technology, we now have the phenomenon of people manufacturing totally false or fake stories that easily pass off as news,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“It is not only alarming, it also poses a serious threat and danger to the very fabric of our society. We must all make a concerted effort to eliminate this phenomenon from our media space.
“Difficult though that might be, the health of the nation requires that we must succeed,” he said.
Murder of Ahmed Suale
Taking advantage of the attention of a section of the Ghanaian media, the president reiterated his commitment to ensuring that journalists go about their work without any hindrance.
He remarked that in spite of strenuous efforts by the police, those responsible for the killing of the investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein Suale in January 2019 have still not yet been apprehended.
“I am deeply regretful that despite the best efforts of the police, the perpetrators of the murder of Ahmed Suale are still at large. But I assure you this dossier will not be closed until they are brought to justice,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Graphic’s support for COVID-19 fight
On the subject of the ongoing battle with COVID-19 in Ghana, the president said that the Daily Graphic has been instrumental in his government’s fight against the novel coronavirus.
He commended the Daily Graphic for its efforts and its advocacy role in helping to bring the people of Ghana all his regular Sunday-night updates on measures put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 within the country’s borders.
“Your efforts have been a welcoming complement to those of the government, as you and the electronic media have provided me the channel through which my Sunday broadcasts on steps being taken to defeat the pandemic have reached Ghanaians,” the president said.
National Media Commission chairman
Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, the current chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), who is also a former editor and director of newspapers for the Daily Graphic in his own right, had a sharp reprimand for state institutions which have refused to pay what is due the Daily Graphic for newspapers supplied to them over long periods. In brief remarks at the ceremony, he called on President Akufo-Addo to assist the Graphic Group to deal with the problem.
In response to the appeal by the NMC chairman, the president noted that he had taken due notice of his plea and would turn his attention to this hurdle in the way of the state-owned newspaper.
“We the people of this country, including public institutions, the only thing that we can do to give credence to the 70 years of the existence of the Graphic Communications Group is to ensure that we patronise the products of the company,” Boadu-Ayeboafoh said.
“There are many public institutions and public bodies that have been using the Daily Graphic, particularly as a source of referencing material and to promote themselves, and they are hugely indebted to the company. So what the company needs is not a dole-out from the state, but the state, particularly through institutions, maybe redeeming [its] integrity by paying for whatever that they have consumed.
“If what state institutions owe the company is paid, the company will be more than sound and can go back to the days when it was paying dividends to the state,” Boadu-Ayeboafoh said.
At the ceremony, all 11 former members of staff who received the prestigious Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Journalist of the Year award during their career with the Daily Graphic were given awards for outstanding service.
The Daily Graphic is the only media organisation in Ghana to have achieved such a feat.
Former editors and managing directors were among those also given awards for their contribution to the Graphic brand.
Graphic Communications Group
Graphic Communications Group Ltd (GCG) was established in the Gold Coast as a private business by the Daily Mirror Group of Britain in 1950.
At that time, the company was named the West African Graphic Company Ltd.
Cecil Harmsworth King Jr, who was in charge of the Daily Mirror Group’s West African operations, was the founding chief executive of the company. The company appointed Martin Therson-Cofie, a Ghanaian, as the first editor of the Daily Graphic and later the Sunday Mirror, now known as the Mirror.
Graphic launched its first newspaper, the Daily Graphic, on 2 October 1950. The paper immediately came to embody the way professional journalism should be practised, setting the standard for the rest of the local press.
Click on the link below to listen to President Akufo-Addo.
Wilberforce Asare / Asaase Radio