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The photo in question (Credit: GhanaWeb, screenshot)

Was BBC host Komla Dumor responsible for his own death? A columnist claimed a photo used by GhanaWeb suggested that maybe he was because it showed him holding three fatty pieces of meat.

While iMediaEthics finds the complaints about the months-old photo of Dumor curious, GhanaWeb apologized for any offense after columnist Moses K. Yahaya’s complaints. “To show him as a carnivorous hedonist is beyond the pale,” the columnist wrote.

Dumor, 41, was from Ghana and had worked for the BBC since 2007. The BBC reported that Dumor died this month after a heart attack.

Yahaya’s Jan. 21 column said GhanaWeb “obviously went overboard” with “its egregiousness and gross lack of sensitivity” given that Dumor died of heart problems.

The photo in question, above, shows Dumor smiling, holding a grill with three pieces of what looks to be steak. He is standing next to another man, his friend Herbert Mensah, who is holding a bottle of wine.  GhanaWeb labeled the photo as having been taken on Thanksgiving. The photo was one of two of Dumor published with a Jan. 19 article titled, “Komla had too much pressure on him at the BBC – Herbert Mensah.”

GhanaWeb breached “journalism ethics without due consideration for the subject under discussion,” Yahaya argued.

It “was not just inappropriate, it was ill-timed, crass and completely unprofessional,” Yahaya wrote, arguing GhanaWeb should have chosen any other photo and that bias may have been to blame. Yahaya also commented that GhanaWeb has an “abysmal lack of editorial supervision” that could be at fault.

“The site has a trove of Komla’s photos that could have been used, at least one that would have been less crass and more positive,” Yahaya wrote. “I dare say without any inhibitions that whoever at Ghanaweb decided to run that unflattering photo of Komla did so deliberately, perhaps to suit his/her dimwitted impulses. Or worse still, Ghanaweb has a hidden agenda to tarnish the image of the famed broadcaster.”

For example, contrast the photo used (above) with the BBC screenshot used by the Press Gazette (below).

Above, see a screenshot of Dumor on the BBC. This image was used by Press Gazette in its report on his death.

Following Yahaya’s critical column, GhanaWeb apologized and posted an editor’s note about the photo choice. The note denied any “hidden agenda” and reads:

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“We will like to apologise to the Dumor family if in excess of duty, we have published something inappropriate.

“Indeed, what we sought to say about the Journalist, colleague and friend, Komla Dumor, through the published picture shouldn’t bear suspicion of a hidden agenda. We only displayed a moment of happiness of him spending quality time with his friend, Herbert Mensah.

“We are not doctors or forensic pathologists but just a team running an open online portal and what we do is to give a voice to the people including the ones in direct contrast with our media.

“If I remember well, our editorial team worked over night to put online Komla Dumor’s biography and a short profile swiftly with exact ultimate respect as it was done for other personalities we lost like the former Vice President of Ghana Alhaji Aliu Mahama, the former President J.E.A Mills and Mr. Nelson Mandela. For us, he was a colleague and a friend and an example to follow.

“At this moment, we are in no position to debate or argue about what we do well or badly but to join in the moment of sadness for a man who has left his family at the tender age of 41, which is completely devastating and undeserving. May your soul rest in peace Komla.

“Kind Regards,

“GhanaWeb”

iMediaEthics has reached out to GhanaWeb for further comment and response to Yahaya’s complaints. We’ll update with any response.

UPDATE: 1/25/2014: 9:04 PM EST: Added Press Gazette image

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‘A Carnivorous Hedonist?’ Photo of late BBC’s Komla Dumor slammed, Ghana Web apologizes

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