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Opinions of Thursday, 22 December 2016

Columnist: Blege, Alex

Western media don’t tell it right; yet we partner them

By Alex Blege

There’re a few things we should bear in mind about the Western media: that they’ll never tell a story that puts its own society in a bad light; they’ll never tell a true story of the continent of Africa – why, for the continent of Africa bad news sells, in theirs, bad news doesn’t sell.

Cable News Network (CNN) was founded by Ted Turner in 1980 and it brought a new life into television broadcasting by providing twenty four hours news coverage and the first all news television channels in the United States of America.

CNN had some of the world’s finest reporters; the likes of Anita Pratap, and Christiana Amanpour. And over the years CNN built a strong reputation of media credibility; however, that media house has just lost some face among Ghanaians. What happened? In an unprofessional style, the CNN reported that Ghanaians queue to buy food and elections were held in 1998 which the president elect lost. Sad. Isn’t it?

And by the second, all and sundry descended on the CNN.

The Western media tells wrong tales about us yet we’re quick to partner them to tell our story – stories that we can discuss among ourselves and find solutions to. One issue comes quickly to mind. June 3, 2015 – a sad day in the history of this country after May 9, 2001. On that day, it’s as if “the gods of rain and fire” had been offended and have not been pacified – there was a disaster.

Then on July 1, 2015, BBC Focus on Africa takes the initiative to discuss how African cities were prepared to deal with disasters. It doesn’t matter whether those who led the discussion were Africans or not, neither is it important that the BBC Focus on Africa partnered with a local media house, Joy FM. The question is, couldn’t we have had an all local media session with the experts and city authorities on how to get ourselves prepared?

The BBC Focus on Africa is situated in Bush House, London and the incident happened around Adabraka and the Kwame Nkrumah Circle which is not too far away from Kokomlemle. Should strangers come to help us demand accountability from our duty bearers or better still should we partner foreign media to discuss a local issue?

We don’t proffer solutions to London anytime there’s some natural disaster or manmade disaster occurs there, neither do we partner the BBC to do a story on how Tony Blair decided to go to war against Iraq even when there were protests in London against such a move – a protest which The Guardian refused to give coverage.

When the issue on TV License came up there was a media session to discuss such an issue without any biases at all. Instead of partnering a foreign media house, media houses in Ghana could have done that discussion without any qualms at all. It’s our problem. It happened in Accra, Ghana not in Bush House, London.

It’s a known fact that the media throws spanners into the works of city authorities in the course of their work. In an article by Manasseh Azure Awuni “Kuagbenu, Vanderpuije, Prof. Aryeetey and the Hypocrite called Ghanaians” published on March 19, 2014, he discussed how by kind courtesy of the media we demonise our authorities because we disagree with their way of doing things.

In his words: “But what did Ghanaians say? He was not considerate. He should do it but with a human face! Does he think he is still in America? What will the poor women do to cater for their children if they are driven away? Even some ministers and deputy ministers openly criticized him. Human rights activists descended on him. The media provided the platforms. And soon the man became more impotent than a castrated pig.”

Manasseh made a statement and quizzed: “Anytime it drizzles and Accra floods, we call for his removal. Is he the one who threw the rubbish in our gutters? We cannot defend the actions of change makers so let’s learn to live with our woes”.

Two years and barely three months after this article was published the “gods of rain and fire” visited us. We paid dearly with the lives and properties of Ghanaians.

Then we partnered with a foreign media house to discuss how our cities are prepared for natural disasters.

CNN or any other Western media will never have any reason to tell a good story for us. Has the BBC World Service decided to find out how we have had a smooth election in? No. There’s no bad news.

The writer is a freelance journalist with interests in human, social and sustainable development kw.ameblege@hotmail.com/kwameselom12@gmail.com