GNA critical communication partner

GNA Feature by Francis Ameyibor

Accra, Sept. 2, GNA
– The Ghana News Agency over the past three years has hit a crossroad and needs
immediate intervention to resuscitate it.

This could be done
through injection of a more media professional climate to help it compete and
new market opportunities.

GNA is still
relevant to the wider national communication system but currently needs a
strategic plan to nurture a new professional culture, the elaboration of a
different business model, foresight in the provision of incentives and rewards
for workers, and re-definition of the range of activities, possibly extending
to multi-media strategies.

Staff of the Agency
has therefore commended the Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP) Presidential
Nominee, Mr Ivor Kobina Greenstreet for being the first to boldly state that
the agency would form the basis of broad national communication strategy, if
elected in the December 7 elections to form the next government.

The CPP has stated
that is national communication policy, what is the stand of the ruling National
Democratic Congress (NDC) and the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and
other political parties towards a vibrant media landscape?

Most often political
parties use the media including the GNA to achieve their political ambitions,
but fail to revamp, and retool the media.

Journalists are
among the least paid professionals in the country, but they continue even at
the peril of their life to serve the nation.

The GNA wants to
hear dynamic strategy by the government to revamp the only wire service in the
country set up by Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah on the eve of Ghana’s independence
as part of a comprehensive communication policy that sought to harness the information
arm of the state to build a viable and united nation-state.

Over the past three
years operations at the Agency has taken a nose dive and its operational hours
have been reduced drastically from 24/7 to less than 10/7.

Now the Agency is a
pale shadow of itself.

GNA urgently needs
the injection of modern communication gadgets, to replace the current obsolete
and malfunctioning technology, vehicles and equipment; and strategic plan to
attract and retain experienced professional staff.

ROLE OF THE AGENCY
IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

In this context it
is timely to review and possibly re-conceptualise the original mission of news
agencies in a manner that fully acknowledges the wide range of their
activities.

The Abirim Central
Municipal Assembly, in a letter of commendation to the agency stated: “We
appreciate the critical role the GNA has been playing by highlighting issues
through the wider media network and the advisory roles offered through the
observations made and the pieces of advices given which indeed keep us on our
toes”.

Mr Anthony Kodjo
Prah a Director of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture after an encounter with
GNA stated: “GNA has not only brought to fore the agribusiness projects and
programmes of the Ministry but it has also educated farmers, agricultural staff
and the public on the agricultural sector.”

Mr Oppong Kyekyeku
Kaakyire, District Chief Executive for Afigya Kwabre District Assembly also
after consistent encounter with the rural approach and coverage GNA provided to
the District said: “GNA has assisted in the transformation of the District and
served as pre-audit tasked force officers whose constant focus on the district
kept all on our toes.”

TOWARDS A NEW
BUSINESS MODEL FOR GHANA NEWS AGENCY

Mr Robert Kafui
Johnson, a former GNA General Manager stipulates that GNA needs to develop and
strategically execute strategy to strengthen its relations with other media
outlets, establish a progressive business culture with political authorities,
public service and the constituent members of the ‘nation’, and between
different media organisations.

Other new models
articulated include a new management team with the ability and operational
understanding to ensure that subscriptions and fees are tailored flexibly to
whatever the client wants to use; and provide additional services for media and
non-media clients to generate additional income in addition to the merger
subscription fees.

Growing use of
Internet for news production and delivery, with additional broadband
requirements for reporters and clients of multi-media services; as well as
integration of text, video, voice and data services; multi-lingual (many
language services for different language communities) and multi-modal (all
forms of expression are employed).

Lower distillation,
that is to say, through the Internet, agencies encourage users to connect
directly to sources; market orientation is both institutional and individual,
with specialist and in-depth services for institutional clients and more
standardised and general-interest services for individual clients; and high
brand identity, nurtured by service image and quality.

GNA’s mission was
to help build a viable, cohesive nation-state, however governments after
governments have woefully failed to adequate provide the needed financial
resources to retool the agency to perform its constitutionally mandated.

With such national
spread, GNA is able to promote a viable, united nation by highlighting stories
that engender development, integration and peace.

The GNA is
instrumental in carrying messages, policies, plans and programmes to the
people, including those in the remotest areas of the country.

GNA’s operations
also give a voice to the vast majority of citizens living in rural areas,
thereby promoting good governance and reducing the urban bias of news
reportage.

In effect, GNA
highlights the problems, desires, difficulties and aspirations of the public.
Thus, matters of great importance are promptly brought to the attention of the
government for action.

GNA has offices in
all the regional and some district capitals, and also employs the services of
stringers in many towns and villages.

STRUCTURE

GNA is spread
throughout the country. Its Head Quarters is located in Accra with nine
regional offices located at the regional capitals.

The regional
offices serve as news gathering link between the headquarters and the districts
and local communities. It also has about 300 stringers (part-time reporters)
spread across the country.

GNA also serves as
practical training centre for most of the countries journalism training
institutions and has built a tradition since its birth as a strategic national
asset that has the responsibility to maintain a cohesive nation-state,
strengthen human rights, be the voice of the voiceless and to promote peace and
stability.

The dissemination
of the national agenda is one of its functions and has strong tradition of
being an independent medium that has created the platform to all newsmakers to
disseminate truthful unbiased and developmental news as its commitment to the
growth of the culture of democracy in Ghana.

Previously, the
government appointed senior executives but now appointments are now made by the
National Media Commission

GNA

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