Paul Adom-Otchere, the host of Good Evening Ghana says Manasseh Azure Awuni, Editor of The Fourth Estate and Sulemana Brimah, the Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), are practising “poverty journalism” with the publication of a one-sided story of some former pastors who are rebelling against the Founder of Lighthouse Chapel, Bishop Dag Heward-Mills.
“I am telling you my brother Manasseh that if this is how you are going to start your [online] newspaper, it’s not going to go anywhere. If you are going to be attacking the men of God, and you want to start with facilitating a rebellion against the men of God; that Fourth Estate is going nowhere, I’m telling you,” Adom-Otchere said in the Editorial segment of his Good Evening Ghana show on Thursday, May 6, 2021.
He averred that the publication dubbed “Darkness in a lighthouse: Pastors recount abuse and trauma” is a one-sided reportage of some pastors that Manasseh Azure Awuni, a former staff of Joy FM now working with The Fourth Estate, an online news portal as an Editor, is publishing as his first exposé.
“When I talk about journalism that is an intellectual exercise, journalism that is analysis, it is not my camera, I catch you, I catch you. People fight with me. People think I don’t like him. This is not how to do journalism,” Adom-Otchere said.
He added that MWFA which is spearheading The Fourth Estate, has an important legacy “and you Mr Brimah, you come and take Kwame Karikari’s legacy and this is what you use it to do? This is crass journalism…”
He then quizzed: “Is that journalism? You don’t have evidence…do you know why the matter is in court?”
He explained, “so when a matter is in court, it stands to reason to your mind as a journalist that there are two sides of this matter upon which the court is adjudicating but it is journalism of crass standards that will publish at the onset of his online newspaper this kind of story. Nevertheless, even with your journalistic fidelity, you haven’t done that. You have not achieved fidelity to the journalism profession. If in your first episode, you go and publish something that somebody is saying; some pastors are saying, pastors recount abuse; what kind of crass baseless story is that? Is that journalism?”
He further indicated that all those who accuse him that his bi-weekly political talk show is a comedy show, as Sulemana Brimah did, are not serious.
Paul Adom-Otchere stated that his colleague Manasseh Azure Awuni always wants to thrive on gossip but if he wanted to do serious journalism, then his first publication should have been the analysis of the 2021 budget statement of the government because it had been read days before the first publication of The Fourth State.
He went on, “…Manasseh Azure Awuni this your first story that a pastor says Dag Heward-Mills has abused him, the matter is in court but it is your first story. If you don’t go and apologize, Dag Heward-Mills will take a writ of defamation against you; he’s going to sue you five hundred million cedis, and you know what happens in defamation…if you are lucky, the judge will say five hundred million is too much, I’ll give you four hundred and fifty million, you [Manasseh] and your [Sulemana] Brimah, you will be sued two hundred million and The Fourth Estate will be dead.
“Journalism is not trickery, is not a spy job, it is not I catch you; I catch you; it’s analysis, it operates in intellectual space. Journalism is like legal practice, it’s like medicine, it’s like engineering…now this disgraceful story that you have done as your first [major] publication…this is not journalism, Mr Brimah and your Manasseh, this is poverty journalism, reckless journalism, trickery journalism and crass journalism.
Your first online newspaper, your publication hinges on gossip. Some pastor has told me that Dag Heward-Mills is abusing him so I have a story; is that a story? Manasseh Azure Awuni, is that a story? This is crass, reckless, bad journalism; you should never do journalism like that again.”
“Manasseh Azure Awuni wake up and stop the basic journalism you are doing...,” he stressed.