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Opinions of Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Columnist: Dela Coffie

Rejoinder: The GYEEDA scandal and the GJA Awards!

I read Manasseh Azurri's ill-informed and ill-conceived write up posted on the web in which he sought to denigrate the awards committee of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and its decision to award the 2013 top prize to Mabel Aku Banasseh of the Graphic Communications Group Ltd.

Much as we have been taught in saner climes to respect opinions of persons on the other swing of subject matters, silence ceases to be golden when such persons engages in pure attrition.

This ingrate in a bid to earn the unenviable PHD (pull him downism) raised critical issues with the GJA awards, which gravely ran foul of the parameters of logic and intellectualism.

Hear him:

"I felt sad when the GYEEDA Scandal, a three-part documentary series for the awards, detailing what can pass for one of the biggest corruption scandals in Ghana over the last decade, did not win an award. I am human, and everyone would love to have something to show for such effort. Last year was the most challenging year of my journalism career."

That was Manasseh Azuri, openly expressing sour grapes over the decision of the GJA awards committee to honour another practitioner's work instead of his so-called GYEEDA scandal.

He continued:

"My only advice to the GJA executives is that they should make the process more transparent so that the annual controversies that undermine the integrity of the awards will be avoided. Any award is as credible as the panel that selects the winners. A lot goes on, and whatever goes in the committee eventually comes out. For the sake of the integrity of the awards and in deference to colleague winners, such issues don’t need to be discussed on this platform."

Since when did Manasseh Azuri realize that the GJA awards lack transparency? When? After he won five distinct awards in 2011 or before then?

In 2011, when Manasseh wasn't even a full blown practising journalist, the GJA awarded him with its topmost prize. He was selected ahead of the famous investigative journalist, Anas Amereyaw Anas who was at the time all over the place wagging a continuous battle against nation wreckers in his investigations into the activities of ECG, Cocoa smuggling, Legon toll extortions, Tema Harbor, Galamsey and several others. We never heard Anas complained or grumbled of being handed a raw deal.

Why should Manasseh even assume that the GJA top prize is his sole preserve just because he serialized draft Auditor General's report on GYEEDA? Since when did the Auditor General's report become a journalistic work?

The fact is that, Manasseh's so-called work on GYEEDA was very sloppy and adversarial. It was never a journalistic work, and l would have been very surprised if it had won the GJA coveted prize.

No journalist worth his/her salt will pick a draft audit report and defies all basic ethics of journalism by not contacting the parties concerned and go ahead to serialize it and expect an award committee to endorse such sloppy and abysmal reporting.

What beats my imagination is how this guy took his gibberish talk to the lofty height and danced naked before the intelligent people of Ghana. You also see him exposing his arrogance in ignorance when he felt that sensationalism, adversarial writing and sloppy reportage should triumph over professionalism.

It pushes one to start wondering why a chick with such an affliction of juvenile delinquency and exuberance would want to fly without sprouting wings.

Manasseh, if you are crying of being handed a raw deal, what should be the cry of Anas Amereyaw Anas whose works on cocoa smuggling, ECG, pen robbery and several others have saved the nation millions of cedis?

Hellow, Manasseh! How about making Anas Aremeyaw Anas the lifetime winner of the award?

The ugly noises emanating from Manasseh has exposed the motive behind that GYEEDA story. It is quite clear today that behind all the GYEEDA noises, was a well-orchestrated ploy to win an award through an adversarial writing and oversimplification of facts to achieve a selfish aim.

If Manasseh think sensationalism, outright oversimplification of facts and adversarial writing is what it takes to win the GJA top award, then he has a lot of catching up to do as a practitioner.

As a journalist, your journalistic responsibility is to tell the truth, and that means providing the public with all the facts you discover. Mabel Aku Baneseh did just that in the year under review. Her reportage was without bias, and she illustrated many aspects of a political conflict rather than siding with one.

Indeed, the story that won her the coveted prize can't be compared to any story in the year under review.

The criteria for adjudging the best journalist is simple and straightforward; every practitioner who cares is expected to enter the competition with a story, and the awards committee selects the best out of the lot.

Mabel Aku Banesseh's story on 'Pink Sheet/ Judgement day' was adjudged the best in the year under review. Let's all celebrate her for a job well done.

If you are not ready to give credit where it is due, don't muddy the waters.

And again, Manasseh's attack on the awards committee is shameful beyond compare and unprofessional beyond belief. This is the same awards that brought him to prominent when he was nothing but a mere freelancer.

Can Manasseh tell the entire world the membership of the committee that awarded him five different awards and overall journalist of the year in 2011?

Can he also tell us if he suspected any foul play at the time, or he won on merit?

The claim that James Asante's membership of the awards committee denied him the topmost prize is pure gibberish.

If James Asante alone can single-handedly influence the entire GJA awards committee to deny Manasseh the journalist of the year awards, what prevents him from doing same with the anti-corruption award that he won and gleefully accepted?

How could Manasseh accept with glee the same awards committees' endorsement of his work on the ant-corruption category, and at the same time accused them of robbing him in the overall top prize?

The GJA should be wary of the likes of Manasseh Azuri whose only interest is to win an award through negative propaganda and falsification of public records.

The GJA must also know that pearls are nothing before swine; they will only trample them under their feet. According to Manasseh, the GJA journalist of the year awards he won in 2011 was unmeritorious.

The GJA must take a cue from this and insist that the likes of Manasseh Azuri is never allowed to enter into any GJA competition. His insults on the credibility of the awards speaks volume.

Manasseh Azuri is nothing but a terrible and sore loser.

I call on all lovers of decency in the media fraternity to come down very hard on the FILTH associated with this ingrate whose claim to fame is GJA awards but who would grow up to publicly denounce the very institution that brought him to prominence.

Enough said!