TWENTY-FIVE years after its “voluntary unofficial liquidation”, the Legon Observer has bounced back with the name “The New Legon Observer” and the promise of being the most pluralistic individual medium for informed national debate and thought.
At the launch of the journal in Accra on Thursday, both young and old recollected the renown of the Legon Observer of the 1960s that had single-handedly served as the independent mouthpiece on national issues as the country started its unstable journey after independence.
The launch of the New Legon Observer, however, was indicative of a the rebirth of a journal that was set to change the media with well-informed and researched materials to help in development dialogue.
Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, the Director of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, Legon (UG), and the acting Editor of the New Legon Observer, on the rebirth of the paper, said since the beginning of the year, several people who had been associated with the paper in the 1960s or had known its reputation, came together under the Ghana Society for Development Dialogue (GSDD) to revive it.
He said the paper was going to be an independent instrument for public discourse and non-partisan, but with enough space to embrace differing political opinions.
A manager, with an editorial board, managed the quality of the paper to ensure adherence to the principles set out by the founding members, he added.
A special guest, Prof. Alex Kwapong, who was the first African Vice-Chancellor of the UG at the inception of the paper, said he was in no doubt that judging by the calibre of members initiating the journal, the New Legon Observer was going to live up to expectation.
He recounted how the paper, in the 1960s, challenged some policies which made the then government rather uncomfortable and thought that the paper was owned by the University of Ghana.
That also made him the object of the government’s questioning sometimes.
A retired Vice-Chancellor of the UG, Prof Ivan Iddae-Mensah, giving the history of the paper, said the paper was set up by the Legon Society for National Affairs (LSNA) in 1966.
He said the paper remained consistent to its principles of providing independent thought and informed discussions on issues of the day, till its involuntary liquidation in 1983.
He described the paper then as an independent, highly objective and committed to the principles of a democratic society.
Prof. Iddae-Mensah said the commitment of the paper to these principles landed the editorial staff in court for contempt of court charges after its editorial titled, “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”.
He said the Legon Observer, “filled a much-needed void in the annals of the country’s history”, while staff were instrumental in the establishment of the School of Communication Studies in Legon.
An acting Director of the School of Communication Studies, Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, said the paper would set the right tone and benchmark for a new kind of journalism in Ghana.
She said the paper, in line with its founding principles, would be a sort of people’s parliament for all to contribute to national issues.
Launching the paper, the Deputy Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr George Agyekum, said any addition to the number of media outlets in the country was an indication of the deepening of democracy.
He pledged that the government would expand the frontiers of the freedoms of speech and association in the country.
Prof. Clifford Nii Boi Tagoe, the Vice-Chancellor of the UG, who chaired the launch, said even though the media landscape was free, the level of discourse was not deep enough.
The New Legon Observer, he said, would therefore raise the level of discourse on national developmental issues.
A founding member of the GSDD, Dr Gobind Nankani, said the New Legon Observer would help shape national debate on development challenges.
The first three copies of the paper were auctioned for GH¢ 20 million .
DAILY GRAPHIC, MONDAY DECEMBER 3, 2007