UTV Gets Best Coverage Of Melcom Disaster

The last one week has been a very traumatic one for many Ghanaians when another major disaster struck with very dire consequences. The collapse of the building at Achimota that housed the Melcom shop in that part of Accra may not be a devastating as the last major disaster to hit Accra in terms of the number of casualties and deaths but it was a very terrible disaster nonetheless that got the attention of the entire nation and the world.

No sooner had the building collapsed last week Wednesday than the international media got on the case and reported to their global audiences. The world therefore got to know that a building in Accra that houses one of the most prominent supermarket chains had collapsed with several injuries and deaths.

The local media was also very thick in the affairs of reporting on what has become known as the Melcom disaster in their own way and to their own audiences.

The radio stations went agog and each of them was clamouring for the best position to get the best scoops for their audience. On the day of the unfortunate incident and the days that followed, there were different stories which were facts, truths, half-truths, speculations, exaggerations, embellishments and everything in between what would make the station look good. An example is how the public was confused about the number of levels the building had as it was conflicting between 4, 5 and 6 storeys.

There was also the confusion about how many people had died and how many people are injured and how serious the injuries were. It was apparent that to make their stories believable some of the stations were quoting figures that had not been substantiated by the officials.

Many comments knocked me off my socks with the most prominent one being when Joy FM’s Evans Mensah referred to the accident site as Ground Zero while the beams and columns and bricks and mortar and other pile of rubble were still hanging and people still underneath as rescue work continued.

Well, I was talking about how the radio station did their best to get the news out to the public and I must add that many of the stations had stationed correspondents at the site of the incident to be delivering live and periodic reports on going-ons.

However, the radio stations cannot take the entire credit for reporting what had happened from day one till early this week when the military formally declared the rescue operation over as other media like press and television also played major role in the caboodle of events.

Talking about television brings me to the issue on hand today and that is to say that Utv need to be commended immensely for playing a greater role in this whole Melcom “building” affair from when it started to the very end.

It must be said that the station being the newest on the block has not got a lot of programmes going on for them beyond showing movies and other more relaxed content and therefore had the ability to inculcate new content into their existing repertoire.

The Melcom incident therefore, as unfortunate as it was, gave UTV the opportunity to do more by stationing ‘permanently’ on the site and broadcasting about every possible thing that happened so the audience would keep abreast.

Most importantly, the station ensured that times when they could not show live visuals from the venue, they had recorded previous events and play it back. This was good because those of us who could not watch all the activities during the live transmission were able to follow what happened at a later time.

I saw comments on social media about how the other television stations had not been too concerned about the incident to be reporting it even when international stations were doing so.

Most of those comments were critical of the local channels for what they see as showing unnecessary content when such a hot issue was on going in the very belly of their operations.

It would be unfair to say that the TV stations neglected the incident (of course they did not cover it as the radio stations did and obviously not as much as Utv) because in their own small way and with the inventory and content space available, they did what they could.

Of course it also has to be emphasized that not all the station could have done total outside broadcast like UTV did by their principles, ethos and work scheduling regime.

This however, does not take away the fact that any media organization worth its sort would donate enough time to broadcast what happened just for the human interest and public service, if for nothing at all.

Thus even as we mourn with those who lost loved ones in this accident and wait on the authorities to make things right, we say thank you to the media for the role they played in reporting and reserve the biggest round of congratulations to Utv for the major role it played in the process.

Source: Francis Doku/The Graphic Showbiz

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