Dear Kojo Yankson, your "khebab" report is fake news, bad journalism and unnecessarily incendiary

Pulse Ghana's Sena Quashie writes on what he calls "factual lapses" in Kojo Yankson's report that a "khebab" seller was the cause of the Atomic Junction Gas explosion

Dear Kojo Yankson,

I woke up to messages and posts saying the poor khebab seller located at Atomic Junction was to blame for the sad incident which occurred on Saturday, 7th October.

And when I asked these people to tell me the source of their information, most of them pointed to a video on Joy FM's page on Facebook, in which you, Kojo Yankson, explained what you called, "The Chronology of Events Leading to the Explosion".

I watched the video and there are some issues I would like to bring to your attention.

Now, to be honest, that is a really heavy statement to make; to the best of my knowledge, no official report has thus stipulated how the explosion first started, not to talk of pinpointing the location of the spark that started it.

I suppose it was part of your psychological conditioning of the audience to make them better understand the point you were trying to make. But as a journalist, that is not your job; but more on that later.

I really don't know where you got your "facts" from, but you sounded like an eyewitness, which you never stated throughout the video that you were, so I am guessing you were not. And this begs the question, "where did Kojo Yankson get his details from?".

To evacuate means to "remove (someone) from a place of danger to a safer place", and per your "chronology" the members of staff of the gas station moved away from the leakage, they did not evacuate anyone.

Objectivity in journalism aims to help the audience make up their own mind about a story, providing the facts alone and then letting your audience interpret those facts on their own. To maintain objectivity in journalism, journalists should present the facts whether or not they like or agree with those facts.

And you didn't deliver facts, and even those non-facts, you delivered them in the wrong way.

I understand we are all emotional about the lives lost and the damage caused by the unfortunate accidents, however, if as a journalist, you cannot present the facts without trying to steer the interpretation of the audience, then maybe you shouldn't have run the report.

The classic idea of "objective reporting" on anything is that the job of the journalist is to witness, analyse and leave the judgements and campaigns to others.

Of course, there’s no such thing as purely objective reporting, but it’s easy to spot journalism that isn't.  Sometimes the journalist will become involved and that can have a dramatic impact and that is I think what happened to you, Kojo.

But these are just my issues with the way you delivered your report - there are more qualms with the fodder of the report on the whole.

Factually, I believe there is a lot with your report.

You never once mentioned how you came about your rather explosive conclusions, you never stated whether you heard it from an eyewitness or from an official report by the Ghana National Fire Service, NADMO etc.

To take words from Ace Ankomah, "With a ‘visible’ gas leakage, with a gas smell all over the place, and with people being evacuated, he insists on lighting a fire. So he (1) puts charcoal on the grill, (2) adds paper to it, (3) pours kerosine, (4) takes out a box of matches or a lighter, and then (5) starts a fire", that is a perfect summary of your report.

But here is the part that you don't put in your report - "when his fire connected with the gas and the explosions started, he had time to (1) gather all of his meat, oil, onions and pepper mix and accoutrements, (2) put out his fire on the grill, (3) place an aluminum cover over the grill, (4) place stones on the cover, and then (5) flee for dear life" - that is the part that makes no sense.

And come on Kojo, you stood by such a "neat" and "unpacked" stand and claimed it  was the genesis of the explosion?

Just take a closer look at the grill and take another look at your report and come out to issue an apology to Ghanaians and the khebab seller.

Your FAKE news has got Ghanaians, who depend on us, journalists, for the facts, blaming and raining insults and curses on a poor chichinga seller.

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