Friday, July 22, 2011

Journalism & Daily Graphic

I found a new "traffic free" route to work. That and the fact that I've been so busy at work explains why I seem to have neglected Kwaku Doe. I shall resume my old "traffic filled" route next week where I get to interact with Kwaku Doe.

On the front page of the Daily Graphic today, there's a story. Headline reads "Grandma Strangles Baby". Of course I got curious and read the story. Basically, it's about a 14-year old girl who got pregnant, can't identify the father of the baby, gave birth and the girl's mother killed the baby barely 24 hours after the child had been born.

Now, a lot of issues arise out of this story but I will focus on one. My focus is on the reportage of the story by the Daily Graphic. Let me quote the two statements I had a problem with.
"Adwoa Mai, the suspect, was said to have gone into an uncontrollable rage when her 14-year old imbecile daughter, who got pregnant without knowing the man responsible for it..."
I'm still trying to figure out what the imbecile there represents. Is that what everyone in the village calls the girl? Is that how she is described by her mother and everyone else who knows her? Is it a condition the girl suffers from? Or is that how the reporter has chosen to describe the girl taking into consideration her situation? Mind you, the story just said imbecile daughter. It didn't say who calls her imbecile daughter or why she is referred to as that.

"According to the police, the dead baby's mother (name withheld), who is an idiot, was made pregnant by an unknown person while she was staying with the suspect and she was not able to identify who made her pregnant."
Again, I don't know whether the idiot there is supposed to stand for a condition the girl suffers from or if that's just a tribe she's from or maybe it's a belief she subscribes to.

Both words were formerly used in a classification system referring to an individual with an IQ between 25 and 50 or lower and a mental age between three and seven years or lower. The classification system is now dated and these words are currently regarded as offensive and used to insult an individual's intellect.

If all this was put there by the reporter because he felt the need to, looking at how much of an imbecile and idiot the girl looks after getting pregnant and not being able to identify the person that made her pregnant, well, doesn't the girl being 14 years make her under aged? Doesn't that mean she was defiled since she's a minor? Should she be called names because a man chose to defile her and make her pregnant? Even if she knows the identity of the man and is choosing to keep mum about it, couldn't it be because the man had threatened her (so many men, like these same reporters tell us in their stories defile under aged girls and threaten them in order to get them to keep quiet)? Even if she does know the identity of the person, wasn't threatened and is not telling so as to protect the guy for whatever reason, she is still under aged.

Should this girl commit a crime punishable by jail time, will she be treated as an adult and put in a regular women's prison or will she be treated as the minor that she is and be sent where minors are sent when they commit crimes?

Let's watch it my dear journalists, let's watch it. In reporting stories, let's try as much as possible not to take a stance and even if we do, let it not show in the story. In reporting stories, journalists should report the facts and leave the public to make up their minds and decide what to think based on the facts reported.


  1. Wow! I think you should write to the Daily Graphic too. I haven't read the story yet so I'll abstain from making any comments based on the story for now.

  2. I hope the Ghana Federation of the Disabled pounces on this journalist and take him back to school. He sounds like he had been waiting years to use those words in an article.

  3. Thank you so much for this. I read the article and could not believe it. But then again, editing, sensitivity and other such standards have really slipped at The Daily Graphic.


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