A number of people have expressed concern about the use of English in the Ghanaian media and this behooves journalists to be careful whenever they are writing.
This is necessary to prevent hoodlums from scathing the noble profession.
One of the most vitriolic attacks on the media in recent days was the one lunched by Kwame Okoampa Ahoofe, Jr., PhD, in his article - "'Contract Killings' 'Assassination' 'Murders' - Stop this abuse of language!" - which appeared in "The Accra Daily Mail" and "The Statesman" newspapers and was also on the ghanaweb.com
In the article, Kwame posited as though he was the "only Brantefo in this Kroso village". However, as it turned out he could not distinguish between the usage of a verb and a gerund (verbal noun). This shows that nobody could claim to know everything.
Bertrand Russell, a great modern-day philosopher, in his work in epistemology including "Our Knowledge of the External World" and "An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth" came to the conclusion that it was only possible for the human mind to know something about everything and not everything about something. This means that the human mind has some limitations in this sphere of existence.
Kwame wrote among other things: ".as it were, the Ghana News Agency represents the official voice of Ghana to the outside world, the so called International Community. And so the GNA is expected to be staffed, at least in theory, by the proverbial cream of Ghanaian journalism. And if after a half-century of continuous operation this is only what Ghana has by way of professional artistry, to show the outside world, then, indeed, God ought to have mercy on us all!"
One would like to assure Kwame that efforts are being made to improve the situation and that he should not despair.
The GNA on July 28 2007 organised a course for its Editors and this Writer was privileged to deliver a paper. Permit me to reproduce the text below:
GHANA NEWS AGENCY EDITORS COURSE 2007
QUICK REMINDERS TO THE EDITOR
By Boakye-Dankwa Boadi, Supervising Chief Editor
This handout has been prepared to act as a quick reference for Editors as part of efforts to produce GNA files that have zero defects. The list is by no means exhaustive. Editors are encouraged to add to them.
Every Editor is expected to know what is expected of him or her. Below are a few of the things Editors do:
1. Check errors of facts, use common sense to decide whether the facts seem reasonable, if not verify them.
2. Read to see if all the important information is given. If not return the story to the reporter or insert the needed facts. Read to see whether any irrelevant or improper material has been included. If so delete.
3. Check the effectiveness of the intro. Is the feature being featured?
4. Check whether all the essentials are in the story
5. Check and eliminate inessentials.
6. Check the organisation of the body of the story.
7. Check and rearrange paragraphs if necessary.
8. Check the writing of the whole story and improve it in any way possible - emphasising an important idea.
9. Eliminate superfluous words, phrases and clauses.
10. Simplify involved sentences and enliven the sentence by changing passive sentences to active.
11. Eliminate Editorial comments, unless the story warrants it.
12. Correct misspellings; errors in grammar and usage and style.
13. Adjust stories to their prescribed length.
14. Write headlines.
15. Assign reporters for assignment.
16. Check if reporters submitted stories from their assigned duties.
17. Attend Editorial Conference to assess the early morning transmissions to see where improvement could be made.
2 The following are errors that Editors must be on the look out for and correct
i) Kwesi owns it a duty to settle the bills = Kwesi owes it a duty to settle the bills.
ii)Tamper justice with mercy = Temper justice with mercy.
iii)The man fell into comma and was rushed to the hospital = The man fell into coma and was rushed to the hospital.
iv) The rainstorm was preceded by lightening and thunder = The rainstorm was preceded by lightning and thunder.
v) Hearts of Oak's Bernard Don Bortey was left off the hook = Hearts of Oak's Bernard Don Bortey was let off the hook.
vi) When they discovered that the man was a thief they raised an alarm = When they discovered that the man was a thief they raised the alarm.
vii)Adjoa left some few minutes later = Adjoa left few minutes later
vii) Young politicians should emulate the example of J.H. Mensah = Young politicians should emulate J.H. Mensah.
viii) Good governance should involve grassroot participation in decision making = Good governance should involve grassroots participation in decision-making.
ix) What is good for the goose is good for the gander. = What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
x) He went to Tema Harbour to clear the goods as soon as he got the bill of laden. = He went to Tema Harbour to clear the goods as soon as he got the bill of lading.
xi)He suggested to the investors to pull their resources together to establish the factory = He suggested to the investors to pool their resources to establish the factory.
xii) Warrant Officer Isaac Frimpong was a Non Commission Officer = Warrant Officer Isaac Frimpong was a Non-Commissioned Officer.
xiii) The two Presidents held a close door meeting. = The two Presidents held a closed-door meeting.
xiv) John Kudjo was the trouble shooter he incited the students to go on strike = John Kudjo was the trouble maker he incited the students to go on strike.
xv) We have to compliment the work of the government by paying our taxes = We have to complement the work of the Government by paying our taxes.
xvi) With regards to the building project = With regard to the building project.
xvii) The women went into income generating venture = The women went into income-generating venture.
xviii) He jumped across a three-meter drain = He jumped across a three-metre drain.
xix) The goods arrived a forthnight ago = The goods arrived a fortnight ago.
xx)Kwesi is semi-illiterate, he dropped out of school = Kwesi is semi-literate, he dropped out of school.
xxi) It has being his character = It has been his character.
xxii)He predicted that Kotoko would loose the match = He predicted that Kotoko would lose the match.
xxiii) He bought some agriculture imputs = He bought some agriculture inputs.
xxiv) Kwesi can not make it to the top of the class = Kwesi cannot make it to the top of the class.
xxv) The rumours about the death of the king defused through the community = The rumour about the death of the king diffused through the community.
xxvi) Adjoa told them not to loose hope even though it was a big lost = Adjoa told them not to lose hope even though it was a big loss.
xxvii) President John Agyekum Kufuor paid his last respect to Madam Fathia Nkrumah = President John Agyekum Kufuor paid his last respects to Madam Fathia Nkrumah.
This Writer would like to appeal to Ghanaian intellectuals to tread softly for they are not the "only Brantefo in this Kroso village".
If you learnt something new after reading this piece, then the time spent was used profitably.
A GNA Feature by Boakye-Dankwa Boadi