Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jnr., has strongly asserted that President John Evans Atta Mills’ interaction with the media at the Editors Forum held at the Osu Castle, is unprecedented in the annals of the country’s democratic history and has issued a challenge to anyone to dare prove him wrong.

To him, gone are the days when newspaper Editors who expressed dissenting opinion with the government of the day had the unpleasant shock of being sidelined unnecessarily.

President Mills, on Friday, January 7th, 2010, held his second encounter with Senior Editors and Media Owners at the Osu Castle. The interaction offered an opportunity for journalists to critical assess the President on his performance in the last two years of his administration and the way forward.

The President answered variety of questions fired at him regarding past and recent happenings in his administration; especially the reshuffling of ministers and the recent hike in petroleum products.

The Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, believes that the media encounter with President Mills at the Castle, was exceptional and unparalleled. He was categorical that the erstwhile Kufuor-led NPP government was intolerable of dissenting views so much so that they (NPP) could go to the extent of using inferior tactics and politics of lies just to discredit perceived anti-NPP newspapers.

“We lived in the Kufuor administration in this country for 8 long years. I practiced my trade as a journalist for 8 years under the Kufuor administration. And I can say with confidence that what we saw yesterday (Friday), never happened under Kufuor! Why, how many times were newspapers like mine invited to press conferences at the Castle? Why, I constantly speak about Peter Apisawu-Kodjoe, who was the News Editor of the Insight and who was beaten to pulp simply for daring to go to the NPP Headquarters to interview the then National Chairman of the party."

He continued; "We have seen a remarkable difference under this administration and I dare anybody to challenge this assertion. Why, the way the media was handled under Kufuor is substantially different from the way the media is handled today. If you disagreed with them, they came after you with bayonet…They manufactured stories about you, they made sure that they attacked your credibility; they never allowed you anywhere near official assignments…All of that are things of the past," Kwesi Pratt posited.

He was contributing to a panel discussion on Radio Gold’s “Alhaji and Alhaji” , on Saturday, January 08, 2011 with Alhassan Suhini, as host.

Kwesi Pratt Jnr., Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper
The outspoken senior journalist alluded to the heady days of the revolution, where according to him, “criticizing the government of the day was considered as blasphemy,” adding that thankfully, Ghanaians have “come to a point there is so much tolerance.”

Evaluating President Mills’ performance at the Editors Forum, Mr. Pratt sang the praises of the president for the fact that he did not ‘dodge’ any of the questions asked; neither did he create the impression that the questions and answers were rehearsed.

He also commended the President for standing on his feet throughout the two hour session even though a lot of people had considered him not to be healthy. To him, the composure and maturity exhibited by the President during the interaction with the media was quite remarkable.

listen to audio here

Source: Rebecca Quaye/ Institute of Journalism