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Kojo Yankson Breaks Journalistic Rules And Still Has a Job


Mr. Kojo Yankson, the resident loudmouth and symbol of unflinching arrogance at Joy FM radio station in Accra, came under withering criticism for his poorly sourced account of what caused the devastating gas explosion at Atomic Junction a fortnight ago.

I watched Mr. Yankson’s video with rapt attention, and I presume you did the same; it was simply captivating. Mr. Yankson was his usual eloquent self; he was at once smooth, charming and persuasive. His description of the events that led to the fiery explosion was succinct and worthy of the Pultizer Prize, the highest honor in journalism.

At the conclusion of the barely four minutes video, you came away with the impression  —fully convinced beyond any reasonable doubt — that the “khebab” seller mentioned severally in the report, was the agent of destruction — the nefarious brain behind he fast moving inferno that claimed seven lives and shook the nation once again to its core.

However, behind Mr. Yankson’s crisp presentation laid a carefully woven dense layer of fabrications, falsehoods and blatant violation journalistic ethics. Whether by design or otherwise, Mr. Yankson implicitly accused the grilled meat merchant of laying to waste several lives and bringing untold hardships to many families.

The National Fire Service has since come out with a comprehensive report detailing the cause of the explosion and laying the blame squarely at the feet of an unidentified driver mate, thus disputing Mr. Yankson’s ridiculous claims. Now the overriding question is: where does the smeared khebab seller go to redeem his name and image?

With his reputation in near tatters, Mr.Yankson quickly offered profuse apologies for his journalistic faux pas. But his awful pseudo apology does little to cover the clearly avoidable mistakes rampant in his report — like for instance, latching on to a few unsubstantiated sources to tell a story that ultimately turned out to be a gross misrepresentation of facts.

Mr. Yankson apparently elected to go on a tangent and engage in distortions and lies, ostensibly to earn his radio station the “honors”  — the enviable reputation of being the first media organization to unearth the cause of the blast and to beat other press houses to the punch in a highly competitive media market, besides boosting ratings for his struggling Super Morning Show.

It therefore follows that in his eagerness to earn cheap accolades, Mr. Yankson discarded simple journalistic rules of checking and double checking sources before airing or publishing a story of this magnitude and implications. Based on his shoddy reporting, it sure would not be out of place to state emphatically that Mr. Yankson failed miserably to do due diligence.

And, as a consequence, he has not only soiled his own professional image, but also given his station and more broadly, Ghanaian journalism, a bad eye. In a nutshell, he has betrayed young Ghanaian reporters who look up to him for inspiration and guidance.

Ghanaians have long mistrusted the national media, and Yankson’s cavalier attitude has achieved nothing but only to confirm their worst suspicions. Nonetheless, I am abundantly hopeful that the profession will ultimately recover from this hit to its reputation.

All in all, Mr. Yankson’s glaring failure paradoxically constitutes a useful lesson for young reporters: do your job diligently and sincerely, apply basic professional rules and obligations, but above anything else, strive to be truthful to your listeners, viewers and readers.


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