The 2008 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party has called on Ghanaian journalists to be bold and truthful and stay away from destroying people with damaging fabrications.

In a speech delivered at the launch of The Thunder, a new national weekly newspaper published from Kumasi, Nana Akufo-Addo warned, “Don’t seek to destroy the hard-earned reputation of people with baseless, fabricated stories. Your success will not be based on another’s downfall. Let the paper highlight issues that will help develop Ghana and her people.”
The chairman of the event which took place at the Golden Tulip, Kumasi, Akenten Appiah-Menka told the publishers to be ‘objective’ and not take sides.

But, Nana Akufo-Addo went beyond that, appreciating the controversy surrounding ‘objectivity.’
“Objectivity, some say, is an illusion,” he noted. “What is, however, not an illusion is truth. Stay loyal to the truth and your readers will forever be loyal – to you. Write the truth and always search for the truth.”

The man seen as the favourite to lead the NPP into the 2012 general elections continued to lecture the new media house on the concept of truth, by quoting the words of playwright, Mark Twain: ‘Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does all the work.’
Nana went on to explain, “In this media venture your lightning is truth held up by the stilts of professionalism in journalism. The truth can help you succeed.”

He said, there should be nothing wrong with a newspaper having a political or ideological leaning. “Newspapers are free to take ideological sides.”

In the speech read on his behalf by Asare Otchere-Darko, who edited Nana Akufo-Addo’s former paper, The Statesman, for 8 years, Nana Akufo-Addo, said, “In May 1992, when I decided to revive, The Statesman, a paper started by my Pa in 1949, exactly sixty years ago, who would have thought that 17 years down the line, every working day, there will be about 30 newspapers on our newsstands all competing for sales and some for mere attention.”

The man, who as Attorney-general steered the repeal of the obnoxious Criminal Libel Law in 2001, acclaimed, “Freedom of speech is here to stay and its wings are strong and broad enough to carry along more media houses – those who can endure, whose loyalty is ultimately to Ghana.”
With the conference room full of politicians, opinion leaders and journalists, Nana Akufo-Addo drew a profound distinction between what may be interesting and of interest. “Remember to always see the difference between what is in the public interest and what may be of interest to the public,” he stated, meaning what an editor may see as interesting for public consumption may not necessarily be for the good of the public.

“Let the publishers, editors and reporters of Thunder roam this region and the entire nation, including the countryside, searching, like da Vinci, for answers to things we do not know. Like, why thunder lasts longer that which causes it,” he charged, philosophically.

Nana Akufo-Addo recalled that the Ashanti Region has a long history of strong, courageous and independent minds and voices during the nationalist struggles. “The Ashanti Pioneer, for example, represented the resistance of the press at its highest against oppression and suppression of press freedom, when for a long time it served as virtually the only real voice of alternative views under the First Republic.”

Although, the area of vibrant media activity is now very much in Accra, he said “the timing of the launch of the Thunder cannot be faulted – and the vision and mission of the young people behind it, which is to set up a truly national newspaper from the capital of a region with some 17 percent of the national population, are most welcome.”

He advised Think Tank Media Consult, the publishers, to be ready for challenges and stiff competition, but added that there are enough opportunities for them to succeed if they stay professional and focus on what matters.

The Thunder will appear on newsstands every Tuesday. Its Managing Editor is Richard Adjei Mensah, popularly known as Tontom.

Credit: The Statesman