It was daring because there were not enough resources to start, and uncertain because even globally there are still ongoing debates over who pays for the cost of online journalism as in most cases costs are incurred in doing stories but these stories are read for free.
The business model for online journalism or new media is still not clear cut. Even though advertising revenue is said to be the main source of earnings for online news sources, that itself is a challenge for most new media entrepreneurs.
The co-founder of allfrica.com, Amadou Mahtar Ba told me sometime when we met in Accra that there is no one single revenue model for online journalists and therefore, advertising couldn’t be the only source of revenue generation.
Despite, the rather remarkable entry of ghanabusinessnews.com into Ghana’s new media arena, and the impact the site is making in its very early years of only two years, generating income to make the site sustainable is our biggest challenge.
Our colleague journalists would be our best judges when we say we are doing well in setting the pace in good quality reporting. We stick to the professional ethics of objectivity, balance and fairness, often publishing stories without fear or favour.
The overwhelming feedback we receive from individuals, organisations, both in Ghana and abroad is testimony to the high standards of journalistic practice that we are known for.
Ghanabusinessnews.com has become the main source of business news in Ghana, as all TV, radio, and newspaper newsrooms across the country regularly visit the website to get a feel of what is happening in the business world.
Indeed, the radio, TV stations and newspapers often read our stories on air and print in their papers but unfortunately do not credit us as the source. A trend we are taking practical steps to correct very soon.
There are some cases in which we have been duly credited when our stories have been used by others, however.
We have also been targeted for attacks for reasons we are unable to understand. One of the major attempts we have been made aware of for instance, was by the Dutch owner of ghanaweb, Rob Bellart. He attempted to bribe the man who manages our domain name with $1000 to transfer our domain name to a DNS server he was willing to provide to him, but the man refused the offer, despite Bellart calling him on the phone trice in a day from his base in Holland. We still have not been able to figure out why Bellart would do this, even though, ghanaweb uses our stories very often and in some cases claim to be the source of such stories.
We have also received hate letters which accused us of seeking for attention and so on.
In recent times, we have exposed the false claims of Nigerian energy company Oando. The company lied to the world that it has signed a $1 billion deal to develop Ghana’s gas infrastructure, but we proved that the statement was false.
We have tried our best to cover areas such as ICT, Oil and Gas, Investments and other areas that the mainstream media in Ghana appears to have ignored. We have covered extensively, the issue of land grabbing in Ghana with regards to the cultivation of food and no-food crops for biofuels production, and we have devoted a lot of attention to the very important issue of e-waste dumping in Ghana – we have done all these with very little resources at our disposal, and undaunted by the challenges we have continued to seek means of making the website sustainable as it has become clear to us that it is the main source of news and information for a large number of people.
And it is gratifying however, to say that a businessman in Kumasi has told us on the phone that he read a story on ghanabusinessnews.com, and got an idea for his business which is saving him about 40% of his production cost!
We recently received a student from Carleton College In Minnesota, USA who told us that her class visit ghanabusinessnews.com regularly and the class is very impressed with the site.
We currently have an average of over 100,000 visits monthly. We consider this a great achievement considering the fact that business newspapers in the country do not have a large circulation compared to the general newspapers.
While we consider these modest achievements remarkable in our two years of existence, we have obviously made some mistakes, but in all we have become the wiser for it, because we have learned from these mistakes.
We are grateful to all of you who have kept faith with us, especially all of you who have supported us through our difficult moments. We are grateful.
We would need your support as we continue to set the standard in online journalism in Ghana.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi