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Counting the days... My baptism of fire as acting Editor

BY: Vance Azu
Vance Azu
Vance Azu

I was appointed the Assistant Editor of The Mirror in July 2012 after a highly competitive interview.

Three weeks after I had officially assumed office, the Editor, Ms. Janet Quartey, informed me that she would take 20 days of her annual leave and that I should psyche myself up for the responsibility that lay ahead of me as acting Editor.

Initially, I panicked and wondered how I could shoulder that huge responsibility as acting Editor, barely three weeks after I had been elevated.

On the other hand, I took the decision of my boss to go on leave so soon after my elevation as an endorsement of my capability to hold the fort anytime she was not around.

Consequently, I accepted the challenge and pledged to do my best to keep the paper afloat.

Confidence boosted

What boosted my confidence was that at the time, the paper had a very strong and resourceful team which included William Antwi Asiedu, now Managing Editor of the Heritage newspaper; Jojo Annan Sam, now sub-Editor of the Daily Graphic; Rebecca Kwei, who is currently with the Junior Graphic, as well as Samuel Obuor, now Managing Director of the Yen.com.gh news portal.

Before I was appointed Assistant Editor, I was playing the lead role in the gathering of news and the day-to-day supervision of members of staff of the unit.

I had led the team as the most senior person and had worked with them in achieving very outstanding results in our news gathering, especially our human interest-laden front page stories.

It came to pass that Ms. Quartey proceeded on her 20-day leave and I took charge of the paper.

My excitement heightened that particular week because it was the first time in my professional career that my name was going to be on the imprint of a national weekly as acting Editor.

I entreated members of my team to be meticulous and diligent in their work, so that we did not record any error in the absence of the Editor.

As usual, every team player went about his/her work assiduously. While production went on, I kept reading through the editorial pages of the 48-page edition as and when the pages were brought to my desk and effected the necessary corrections until we put the paper to ‘sleep’.

Taste first copy

Usually, whenever the printers were about to start printing The Mirror, they invited me to the press house to taste the first copy, after which I gave them the go ahead to continue with the bulk printing.

On this day in question, which was a Friday, I was called to the press house by the Production Manager to taste the first copy. I took my time and went through the paper carefully to check whether or not there were errors.

Interestingly, I could not tell whether or not a spell had been cast on me. After I had finished going through the paper for the first time, I went through it again.

I was very satisfied and told the printers to continue with the printing. Even when I brought a copy of the paper to the office, my colleagues who went through also didn't identify any mistake in it.

I gave myself a pat on the back for a good work done.

Sadly, my Saturday morning was badly battered when I had a call from the then Managing Director, Ken Ashigbey, demanding an explanation as to why the Nana Ama Advises You page in the paper had been repeated.

I melted and my legs started wobbling. My tongue got entangled in my mouth. I couldn't speak. I only remembered telling him I would get a copy of the paper from the newsstands and get back to him.

I went out and bought a copy of The Mirror and realised the blunder that had been caused.

Blunder

There was a page, From the Law Courts, which didn't appear but rather the Nana Ama Advises You on page 20 had been repeated on page 28 where the From the Law Courts page should have been.

I grabbed my head with both hands and cursed the day that I was born for failing my first test as acting Editor of The Mirror.

The next Monday when I reported for work, with the help of the Head of Design, I went into the system and checked from the imposition and it was discovered that the fault came from the Lead Designer.

I was summoned by the then Editor of the Daily Graphic, Ransford Tetteh, who had supervisory role over my work. He chided me for not paying attention to detail.

He gave me a verbal warning and I left his office with a long face.

When I got back to my unit, I shared the challenge we had encountered with our previous week's production with my team members and vowed never to falter again.

After that embarrassing incident, I acted a number of times in the absence of my Editor, and even in that same capacity when I worked with the Junior Graphic for five years, there was no recurrence of the initial gaffe.

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The writer is the Night Editor of the Daily Graphic.