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Journalists Uninspired By Encounter With President

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As originally billed, the Media Encounter with the president looked unlikely to be a humdrum affair but after the meeting, some journalists, have referred to it as “underwhelming.”

This outcome has questioned the capacity of journalists in the country as many ask, “Who is to blame for sucking out the excitement of what promised to be an exciting, educating and a rewarding meeting.

Speaking to TV3 news last Wednesday, after the event, Evan’s Mensah of Joyfm said, “Todays encounter is one of the most underwhelming one I have been to. If you ask me what my major takeaway was, I would struggle.”

For CitiFm’s Nathan Quao, he was completely happy about the president’s response to some questions.

“I wasn’t satisfied at all especially about the white paper…I assumed he would have been very abreast with that but he admitted he didn’t have all the information.”

At the encounter, the president had been quizzed by a journalist about the implementation of recommendation in the “White Paper” released after the probe into issues that marred the appearance of the men’s national football team at the 2014 World Cup.

For a president who is bent on exposing corruption at every level, Nana Addo’s response was, “I have forgotten about the 2014 White Paper.”

His response leaves football enthusiasts disappointed.

Another journalist was burdened by the kind of questions his colleagues posed.

“I think that by and large people had major issues that they wanted to ask questions about, but the framing of questions ended up being rather too long or not too clear,” he said.

At the encounter there were a couple of times where the president had to ask for clarifications of some questions posed by journalists.

Vida Essel thinks the encounter was limited by time and this resulted in many journalists not able to ask their questions.

“…media men had come all the way from the northern regions and were not given the opportunity to quiz the president…the organisers should have been more considerate. What’s the use of coming all this way if the main aim to which I was brought was not achieved? I could have just sat at home and watched it on TV just like every ordinary Ghanaian did,” she submitted.

Abysmal Performance of Journalists?

It was not only the press that pulled loosed strings from the media encounter. Cross sections of the public and some analysts have expressed displeasure over the performance of media personnel at the event.

A senior lecturer at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Professor Ransford Gyampo said most of the questions were not strong enough to pin the president.

“…apart from the few journalists who asked very good questions, the rest were not asking any meaningful questions, the questions where so shallow and were not seasoned with any research and they were questions that any president could easily answer,” he maintained.

According to Professor Gyampo, the uninspiring line of questioning has been the trend over the years making presidents fearless of such platforms.

“If you guys would go and indirectly sing his praises, don’t think you are doing a lot of good to mother Ghana…media people must be able to research and ask thought provoking and scrutinising questions to subject the president to strict prove because this is a very credible and serious accountability platform.

“I’m sure if the president goes to Makola he would receive more thought provoking questions that bother on the lives of the ordinary people,” the lecturer said.

MFWA rates Questions

Meanwhile, the Media Foundation of West Africa (MFWA) has analysed and rated questions asked by journalists during the event.

In a four-page document released, the MFWA presented their perspectives on some of the best and worst questions.

The best question for the day according to MFWA’s rating was from Abdul Hayi-Moomen of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) which sought answers to how safe the country was after some persons were arrested to possession of grenades.

“The question was relevant and purposeful. The questioner provided useful background and context. It wasn’t framed in a close-ended way and asked with clarity,” the report stated.

The worst question for the day according to MFWA was from Gordon Asare Bediako of the New Crusading Guide, and according to them, it lacked relevance and context.

By: Grace Ablewor Sogbey/ ksogbey@gmail.com

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