OPEN LETTER TO DAILY GUIDE
It saddens me to learn that Daily Guide, a publication that has made efforts over the years to bring stories of public interest to Ghanaians has departed from dignity and professionalism.
Your publication of Monday 19th May 2014 showing the image of the corpse of an elder statesman lying on a trolley at the morgue is in poor taste. No son nor daughter of Ghana deserves what you did. No child nor adult of our motherland irrespective of their station, occupation, religious or political affiliation must be treated any less in death than the soldiers who are charged to guard and protect our sovereignty.
In the press’ bid to serve and make a living, it is important that we maintain our humanity, sanity and dignity as well as the dignity of those we report on and for. I am compelled to believe your publication of a senior citizen lying lifeless at the morgue was a gross oversight. I want to believe so against all odds because common sense would not allow anyone on a trained media team to consciously seek and obtain the morbid image, place it on a page, edit to ensure clarity, complete page setting, check story to ensure its consistency with the media house’s rules and agenda setting, then receive editor sign off for publication. If this entire process was an oversight, a retraction, and equally prominent apology to his family and your readership, is long overdue. If this was a planned and sustained effort, then the culprit(s), like the selection of disgraceful citizens and nation-wreckers you uncover, must bow their heads in shame.
If this nation must grow, we must not only write and speak of professionalism from others; we must not merely pay lip service to kindness and respect for one other; we must not merely grow old but grow up and grow wise too. That robbers have stolen from us in the past, that vicious men have raped and slaughtered children in years gone by does not make it right for anyone to repeat similar actions in the present.
“Etua wo yonko ho aa etua dua mu” shall not be converted into a vicissitude by which our brothers and sisters live. The golden rule teaches us to do unto others as we wish them to do unto us. In all my training and practice in Media and Public Communication, I am yet to find one Ghanaian publisher, editor or journalist who published such an image of their relative’s corpse. What is your motive at Daily Guide for this?
What benefit is it to Daily Guide and its management to act in such bad taste? There are those without the gift of the spoken or written word who resort to violence as soon as the sanctity of their God, safety of their children or the dignity of their forebears and elders is trampled upon. I pray for circumspection and peace. I pray that no such person bears you grudge beyond this correspondence nor sets harm your way. Refinement lies in the heart but it is by our words and deeds that we show it exists within us.
We all make mistakes. It is what we do after our mistake offends and hurts others that shows we are not mistakes ourselves.
Whilst the National Media Commission’s condemnation of your publication is a dwarf’s step in the right direction, in the light of their laudable mission yet lack of legal authority to offer a carrot nor use a stick with those it regulates, it is conscience; yours, mine, the conscience of the humane audience we collectively serve and the sentiments of the peaceful nation within which we enjoy the freedom to roam and go safely back home that we should give profound thought to as we strive to make a living in the inkling fraternity.
Our collective work in media must expose the undesirable, objectionable, inimical and hazardous on the one hand and showcase the commendable, the rising and outstanding on the other. One is at a loss where your publication of Monday fits in with this scheme of things. Through the stories you cover, journalists set the agenda for public conversation. Through print as well as the electonic media, we choose to build valuable friendships, engender public opinion and hasten calls to action whilst castigating the recalcitrant or create further divides and enmity as we attack, humiliate and demean the law-abiding and respectable. Any well-intentioned person will find it hard to understand how your publication of the corpse of a husband and father on a trolley, a lifeless body yet to be moved and placed in a refrigerator serves the public interest and helps his grieving family and friends find consolation.
Story by Kwesi Kyei Darkwa