The Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) yesterday launched its 70th anniversary, with a call on state institutions to innovate and strive for independence and not tie their fortunes to the government’s apron strings.
The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye, who gave the advice, asked state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to learn from the good example of the GCGL, which had risen above turbulent moments to make giant strides in the media industry.
“The Graphic Corporation was purchased at a particular time just because of a state decision. Nevertheless, even when it had been made a state institution, it refused to go for government subvention. It remained commercial and continues to make profit and maintain its dignity. This is what I pray that other public corporations will learn from,” he stressed.
Prof. Oquaye said when state corporations were innovative enough to maintain their independence, they could ward off unwarranted political control that could impede their success.
The launch, which was held at the head office of the GCGL, brought together high-profile personalities from all walks of life who paid glowing tributes to the company for blazing the trail on the media front.
The GCGL was established in the Gold Coast as a private business by the Daily Mirror Group of Britain in 1950.
At that time, it was called the West African Graphic Company Limited.
It was founded by Cecil Harmsworth King Jnr, who was in charge of the Daily Mirror Group.
The first copy of the Daily Graphic was launched on October 2, 1950.
Prof. Oquaye eulogised the GCGL for blazing the trail in the media space and contributing immensely to national development for the past seven decades.
Particularly, he commended the company for rising above reproach and sticking to the core principles of neutrality, independence, accuracy and truth, even in an era of media pluralism and sensationalism.
The Speaker underscored the need for the company to leverage its competitive advantage as the leading newspaper to shape the country’s development agenda further.
“Graphic has stood the test of time and so your influence on the public must not be underestimated. You must use your competitive advantage as a solid stepping stone to jealously guard our national development agenda, as well as our democracy, particularly in this election year,” he said.
Prof. Oquaye stressed the need for the Daily Graphic, the flagship publication of the GCGL, to hold on to the virtues that set the newspaper apart from others, in order to remain relevant in shaping the national discourse.
“In my time, when someone doubted the authenticity of a story, it was enough to say it was in the Daily Graphic, and those who said so were never proved wrong; and that is authoritative newspaper reporting,” he said.
He further urged media organisations and journalists to focus more on reporting the other aspects of national development, instead of reducing their reportage to political issues.
The Managing Director of the GCGL, Mr Ato Afful, who set the tone for the occasion in his welcome address, said 70 years of growing the Daily Graphic brand had afforded the company the opportunity to celebrate.
However, he said, it was important to highlight the fact that seven decades “doesn’t represent an arrival but rather a solid foundation on which to continue our growth and upward trajectory”.
In keeping with the tradition of the Graphic brand, he said, a number of thought leadership events and activities had been tabled for execution around the country to mark the anniversary, on the theme: “Seven Decades of influencing National Development and Building Brands”.
The celebration, he said, would be climaxed with an anniversary ‘ball’ on October 2, this year.
Explaining the force that had driven the company into excellence after seven decades, Mr Afful said its goal had been to create a diverse, respected and effective media house and brand that would provide real value for its readers, while striving to become the most desired and admired media company in Africa.
“Our ambitions and antecedents were bold, but we knew we wouldn’t fail because we believe implicitly in our vision. From humble beginnings, the GCGL grew into one of Ghana’s largest state-owned media and publishing companies, with six print brands, two digital channels, a portfolio of subsidiary businesses and offices with news gathering capabilities around the country,” he said.
He said the success of the company was hinged on its core value of focusing on truth and accuracy as the springboard for media excellence.
“We have been committed and focused on truth and accuracy every day,” he stressed.
Mr Afful noted that the GCGL continued to be dependent on an uncompromising commitment to its core values, which had endeared the company and its brands to readers and business.
“Our clients have consequently benefited from their association with our editorial quality, leadership and consistently strong market share. Have we grown their brand equity? Our job is to provide measurable value. It is in Graphic,” he stated.
He expressed appreciation to the staff of the company for remaining committed to its objectives, which had propelled its growth to the most distinguished media house in the country.
He also thanked past managing directors of the company for the sound leadership they exhibited during their various tenures as heads of the company.
“I would like to thank every single partner and employee who has been involved in our journey, specifically my predecessor managing directors: Mr Kwasi Adu, Mr Kofi Badu, Mr Berifi Apenteng, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Mr Kenneth Ashigbey and my immediate interim predecessor, Mr Ransford Tetteh,” he said.