14 November 2012

Ghana: The Comedy at New Times Corp

column

Yesterday, the Board of Directors of New Times Corporation, headed by Mr. Clement Vanderpuiye, a private businessman with strong roots to the ruling National Democratic Congress, announced changes to the occupants of its two editorial chairs.

On the front page the Ghanaian Times, the story stated thus: "The Board of Directors of New Times Corporation (NTC) has approved the appointment of Mr. David Agbenu as the Editor of the Ghanaian Times.

"It has also confirmed Mrs. Tina Aforo-Yeboah as Editor of The Spectator. Both appointments took effect from November 1, 2012," the paper wrote.

The Chronicle wishes to take this opportunity to welcome the two new editors to the Ghana Editor's Guild. Both editors have been long term journalists of the New Times Corporation's stable of newspapers.

Having made this observation, The Chronicle is bemused by the changes, barely three weeks to the elections. One interesting development is that the Acting Editor of long standing, Mr. Charles Neequaye, was confirmed as the substantive editor, only this year.

Our information is that Mr. Neequaye has been asked to proceed on leave until his retirement date in July next year. Since Mr. Agbenu has been confirmed, while Neequaye has not been dismissed, it means that technically, at least, the Ghanaian Times has two editors.

It is one development that is unique to the state-run newspaper. There are not many newspapers in the world with two editors, which is why the experience of the Ghanaian Times is unique.

One other interesting development is that the new editor has been jumped four times to occupy his new position. He was Chief Reporter previously. He has gone past the Deputy News Editor, News Editor, Assistant Editor and Deputy Editor to become the editor of the newspaper overnight.

One development that has set tongues wagging at the corporation, founded in 1958 as Guinea Press, is how Dave, the new editor, leap-frogged over his more senior colleagues, including Jim MaCaulley, confirmed Deputy Editor, a person of considerable experience and dedicated service to the newspaper.

The rumour mill is looking at the December 7 Presidential and Legislative Elections as one of the motivating factors that might have influenced the appointment of the relatively junior Dave Agbenu, to head the editorial team.

Many too are commiserating with John Ackom-Asante, until the appointment of Ms. Tina Aforo-Yeboah, the Acting Editor of The Spectator. Mr. Ackom-Asante has always been the sacrificial lamb at The Spectator anytime there was the need for changes at the top. He had to make way for the late Merari Alomele, certainly one of the nation's prolific writers, while he lived.

As it is, many are reading political motivation into the changes in the musical editorial chairs at New Times Corporation. Dave Agbenu is a die-in-the-wool activist of the ruling NDC.

And though Ms. Tina Aforo-Yeboah may not owe her rise to services rendered to the party, many newspaper watchers believe she was roped in to make the appointments look like they were done without political motivation. The Spectator, many agree, has very little to do with politics anyway.

The Times has suffered under political Pontius Pilate for a long time. When Mr. Christian Aggrey was toppled after nearly three decades of political and editorial dictatorship, many felt the Ghanaian Times would be allowed to operate within the economic realm. As things stand at the moment, there is every reason to believe that the political comedy at New Times is still lingering on.

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