CliqAfrica’s Excellent Social Media Report on Ghana and My Reactions

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I have read an excellent social media report: 2015 Ghana Social Media Rankings was launched by CliqAfrica in collaboration with Avance Media, Dream Ambassdors, TV3, 233livenews, Cape 360, Enter Ghana and Gonewsgh. The report summarized social media follows, likes, and interactions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for many different sectors such as hotels, telcos, public figures and more.

My top insights were:

  1. Top in the Ghanaian personalities  category was Yvonne Nelson, an actress who was behind the #DumsorMustStop vigil. This possibly shows that engaging in political issues is, despite what many say, good for your celebrity brand.
  2. If to judge politics by the social media ranking of “public figures”, Mahama is more popular than Akuffo-Addo.
  3. University of Ghana ranked well in both the “brand” category and “university” category, but as the breakdown was shown, its rival the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology had many more likes both on Facebook and on Twitter (where University of Ghana is not even present). What UG scored on was engagements, but I wonder…was that weighting fair in this case?
  4. Telco Airtel came out on top, although MTN and Vodafone have larger market shares. Similar to above, the ranking came from engagements.
  5.  Radio stations JoyFm and CitiFm came out neck to neck with Joy on top. Similar to the telco situation, Joy is seen as the market leader.

I also liked that runners up for next year were listed (Ashesi!) and that transparent tables of numbers were included for each category.

Reading the social media report, I actually wish I had been involved in it as I thought it to be well-executed and timely. Now brands and organisations in Ghana can see how they rank in social media compared to others in their sector. I believe social media trends can also at times precede on the ground happenings. Brands not present in the report should see this as a wake-up call.

CNN and the Ghanaian Government: Interview with President Mahama and Media Ethics

Today I get the prompt to “upload my question to the CNN interview with president Mahama”. I think to myself, CNN…Ghanaian government. Was there not a thing there? Going through my emails, in a discussion thread on the perils of “too positive” media coverage, I find a link to this blog post by a BloggingGhana colleague, Roxanne L Scott from the end of May 2013.

In summary, Roxanne writes that the Ghanaian government payed 1,5 million USD to CNN in 2012 for positive coverage under the “CNN Eye on Ghana Project”. The project was centered around tourism and investment and produced stories such as “Welcome to Ghana: Historic castles, exotic wildlife and a golden coast”. (Scroll down and the slideshow title reads: “Ghana: the jewel of West Africa”) This project is no secret, it is covered in official documents!

In the same documents, we can read about the plans for 2013: “the Ministry [of tourism] will augment its Marketing Ghana Programme through intensive use of the international media. Funding will be mobilized in pursuit of the CNN Eye on Ghana project…”

(Docs below I have borrowed from Roxanne)

Roxanne writes:

“I’d love some clarification for how this $1.5 Million goes in reference to CNN.

If it is in fact payment, its unethical.

I recently learned at an arts and culture journalism workshop in Ghana it’s quite the norm for media houses to charge artists and organizations for coverage according to time. For example one can call a radio station in Ghana and get the price for a featured interview. Event planners also charge journalists to “cover” their event. Political parties engage in this as well. After press conferences, political parties pay journalists for coverage.

I thought it was a journalists job to look for the news. A journalists creates the content. If you’re being paid by an organization to cover the news, or if you’re charging for individuals/organizations to feature their content, thats more public relations (PR) and its unethical. You really shouldn’t call yourself a journalist.”

The media ethics debate in Ghana has a long way to go. However, it is not just in Ghana the lines between journalism and PR is blurred, as Roxanne rightly points out. The president’s CNN interview is scheduled for some time in October. Meanwhile, it looks like the CNN Eye on Ghana program alive and well and possibly “augmented” for this year. Does that CNN Eye on Ghana Project involve a primetime presidential interview? Later today over at CNN the window for uploading your video questions for president Mahama closes. CNN iReport, urges:

“Send us your questions for the president in a video (15 seconds or less, please) and they could be asked on CNN!”

I am guessing the most critical voices  (if they even can be captured in less than 15 sec!) – “What is the relationship between CNN and the Ghanian government?” and “Can we trust this interview to be objective on the basis that the Ghanaian government is paying CNN for coverage?” will likely not be featured…

My colleague Roxanne ended her blogpost in May with a plea to CNN for some clarification. She never heard back. I hope this time CNN will answer.

Please share this blogpost with your networks if you also want to know more from CNN on their relationship with the Ghanaian government.

My Views on ECG in The Mirror

On Saturday, I was interviewed in Ghanaian weekly The Mirror about the ECG scandal revealed and discussed earlier on the blog here.

This is what I said:

“People I talked to yesterday had very similar feelings to my own. We felt disappointed and angry. A state company is supposed to look after the interests of the state, and a state is its citizens. Rather, Anas report revealed, ECG is giving favors to corporations and making it difficult for individuals to even obtain a meter to get on the grid. A new friend even said, knowing it had gone this far, he felt he is losing hope and becoming cynical.

It seems ECG forgot their role of distributing electricity to individuals and companies and collecting money for it. On JoyFM the ECG spokesperson Dr Smart-Yeboah said the role of the company was to help keep companies in business – I disagree with that.

The management of ECG and its board should accept responsibility. The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) have been quiet on these issues. Ultimately, in my understanding, the Ministry of Energy is in charge of electricity in Ghana.

I think, except for the changes that ECG will do internally, we all have to help in the solutions. At Ashesi University College we have a course in business ethics that we call Giving Voice to Values. We assume we all have values, we can differentiate right from wrong – the difficulty is to voice those values.
Sometimes just asking a question is a start. Director of Public Affairs at ECG said on JoyFM “I have heard a lot of complaints, ‘they are asking money’, but nobody will tell you who.” Here we the public have to step up. Next time someone asks for bribe, can we ask for their full name? To talk to their manager? Can we call a journalist and ask them to look into the practice? Companies can help us by having hotline numbers and people on the other side of the line who are trained to take such complaints. Name tags for all employees would also be helpful.

I am not the right person to say what ECG should do now. However, this is a very serious blow to the credibility of the company and hence Ghanaians are expecting change.”

Fellow bloggers Edward Tagoe and Obed Sarpong were also interviewed. Click on their names for their blog posts on the scandal. Read more about teaching Giving Voice to Values here.

Global Voices Interview with Kajsa HA

Today, I am interviewed by Linda Annan, editor of American-Ghanaian Obaasema Magazine in the international online blogging/citizen media community Global Voices.

Global Voices is an amazing site that pulls together stories from blogs all over the world, with a focus on the areas we do not hear from every day. The community is largely volunteer-driven and is co-founded by celebrity blogger “My Heart’s in Accra”/Ethan Zuckerman.

Here is an excerpt from my interview:

How and why did you get into blogging? And why Ghanablogging?

In 2006 I was living in Paris and started blogging to keep in  touch with family and friends and write about my impressions of my new life. At the time, some Swedish friends had blogs at home. I have always loved to write and thought it was a brilliant forum, but couldn’t really find my own tone or topic. However, when I knew I was going to move to Paris, I found myself reading blogs, not books, about Parisian life. I think that spurred the decision to start blogging myself.

In Paris, I was invited to a blog meet-up, hosted by blogger Petite Anglais (who later got a book deal out of her blog). It was great to meet with other bloggers and it turned out two of them worked within the same big organization as me at the time!

So in 2007, when I moved to Ghana I continued blogging and was always on the lookout for Ghanaian blogs. When I had found enough of them, I organized the first meet-up with a friend. It was in July 2008, and eight bloggers came. We decided on the name GhanaBlogging as we wanted the action in the name. We are all doers.

What are you referring to when you say you love the shift from online presence to real life meetings?

When people think of blogging, they think about a lonely person in front of a computer, when in reality it really is a network! Blogging comes with belonging somewhere, blogging is an activity that has strengthened my relationship to Ghana. So yes, my blog is online, but many real life meetings have come out of it!

Read the full Global Voices interview here.

Ghana in Swedish Media: A Success Story

Yesterday, my good friend Ylva Strander from Meltwater Entepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) was in one of the Swedish main dailies as “She educates IT entrepreneurs in Ghana” (article in Swedish).

It was not the first time over the last few weeks that Ghana was mentioned in Swedish media. TV-reporter Erika Bjerström has recently reported about both the mobile phone industry and the the “oil boom” in Ghana in a series that chronicles “the new Africa”. See below! (Voice over in Swedish/interviews in English, beautiful pictures of Ghana).

Common for all of these news are their inherent positive angle. It is talked about technology in relationship to ethics and democracy, the business opportunities and the amazing economic growth.

Is this a fluke or a trend shift in reporting from Africa?

>No Rain in Africa? Few Reports on Flooding in West Africa

> One might almost think that there is no Rain in Africa, judging from the extremely sparse Ghanaian journalistic reporting about the flooding that has misplaced 600 000 people in Northern Ghana and other West African countries. According to some reports 25 Ghanaians have already died in the floods.

While BBC had this flooding among its top news yesterday, see for instance here, the issue was glaringly absent from the Daily Graphic front page, the most read newspaperin Ghana on the same day.

On popular news site Ghanaweb, I find only this article on the floods, source CNN (!)

Also reliable radio channel Joy FM, do not place any significance on the flooding in the country. The same CNN article (!!) is what they have listed under Africa/International on their webpage here.

One would think since Ghanaians are dying and we live relatively close to the scene, Ghanaian journalists would be the first to report on this horrible situation to the surrounding world. But sadly, the situation has not improved at all since I blogged about the flooding in 2007 here . What I said then was

people write me about the floods in Ghana – note the irony of that I write a comment on it on my blog “Rain in Africa”. Anyways apparently these floods make it to the news in Sweden, Spain and the US.

Is this news not relevant to Ghana? Do we not care?

Map borrowed from BBC.co.uk/Africa