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Opinions of Sunday, 7 February 2010

Columnist: Issakah, Sagito Musah

The Confessions of a lying editor

Editor: a person employed by a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed. Elbert Hubbard(1856 - 1915) said this and it is as if he was talking directly to the editors of newspapers (especially private ones) in the country Ghana. The editor of the "New Punch" newspaper has just made the quotation all but clear.

Baby Ansaba, known by family and parents as Ato Sam is reported to have revealed to the world on Wednesday, 27th January, 2010, about how he fabricated and printed lies about the health of the then presidential aspirant Prof, J.E.A. Mills in the ‘New Punch’ newspaper of which he is editor. This really served as a shocker to a lot who don’t have a clue about the daily ‘going ons’ in the newsroom of the private newspaper. Well to some of us the shocker in it is just that it is out in the public domain.

This short piece, will however leave the shocking side of the revelation to just that and concentrate on the different issues that the revelation has brought to fore as far as the behavior and mindset of some journalist in the country are.


The first issue that can be picked from the revelation has to do with the confession. It is commendable that the journalist has confessed his past wrong deeds in the form of false reportage and personality-image-tainting. PeaceFMonline reports “…he says he has denounced that ‘regretful’ and unethical past and will henceforth live true to the journalism profession.”

The confession and claim of repentance should be a light and source of strength for those other journalists who have been and continue to write and publish falsehood about personalities to also repent their ways even if the confession and repentance will not be done for public hearing as in the Ansaba case.

The commendation aside, the question that comes to mind, after a thorough analysis of the confession stories running on various media stations, is whether the claim of repentance is a genuine one or not. This then brings me to the next issue.

GENUINENESS OF REPENTANCE The editor is reported to have given reason (s) for his decision to confess. One of them is that the president, John Evans Atta Mills, and his party who were at the receiving end of most of his false stories, are treating him better than the former NPP government, whom he committed those immoral acts to favour.

Peace FM reported him as heaping “praises on President Mills for counting him worthy to travel with on an international tour, explaining that even the John Agyekum Kufour-led NPP, for which he crusaded to help keep in power, did not as much as offer him a single trip on any of his over 180 international tours.”

Yeah, it is true that it takes something or an incident to make someone see wrong in whatever wrong he or she had been doing. In this case Mr. Ansaba new perfectly that what he was doing was wrong and continued doing the wrong because he hated the party he was doing that to-in this case the NDC and the president. To come out with a confession just because the so called “enemy” is treating him better than those he claimed were friends, brings out the issue of genuineness in the confession. I ask Mr. Ansaba this question, ‘would he have come out with the confession, had it been that the president and the NDC did not take him on that particular trip he is talking about? The answer I suppose and believe is NO. Where then lies the genuineness in the confession. And even what is the guarantee that he would not write fabrications about the NPP so as to gain much favour from the one-time enemy party? Mr. Ansaba, Sir, please you need to do better than what you are doing now to make me believe in your confession.


The revelation has also brought to light the fact that there have been and still are fabricated stories in our journalism circles. As I wrote in the earlier paragraph, I hope this revelation will open the way for more of the journalist in this country who have been and still are in the bracket “story fabricator” to repent their ways for the better.

Journalists, aside the issue of reporting on events, having in mind the in-house policy of the media institution, are supposed to uphold and be guided by two important journalistic principles or traits. These are Precision Journalism and Objective Journalism. A journalist who is guided by these traits will never stoop too low to fabricate stories about a person, all with the intention of damaging the persons reputation. Baby Ansaba did not make use of any of these principles. My advice to him is to humbly retire from the profession before he is kicked out by the world famous can-make-noice-but-cannot-bite Ghana Media Commission and Ghana Journalist Association. May be this time they will bite. At least that will give some flesh to the genuineness of his confession.

My general advice to all those journalists who are into fabrications of stories, is that they should put an end to it and repent their ways lest we give meaning to Thomas Jefferson’s statement that “the man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.

Sagito Musah Issakah (