Lack of structure in newsroom, a challenge to journalists

By Belinda Ayamgha, GNA

Tamale, Sept. 17,
GNA – Journalists in the Northern, Upper East and Upper East Regions, says a
major contributory factor to the pervasive under-performance of journalists in
the country is the lack of well-structured newsrooms.

They said some
newsrooms in other countries had laid out structures, especially for covering
stories that involve both editors and journalists working together to produce
quality reports.

They said in Ghana
most newsrooms lack this qualities, leaving decisions like what angles to take
to a story and how to get the information for the story up to only journalists.

Speaking at the
first day of a two-media training workshop for Journalists from the north in
Tamale, participants said this gap poses a great challenge to their work as
they thus had to play all roles.

According to them,
most media houses with the exception of a few, do not even hold editorial
conferences or meetings with reporter at the start and end of the day to
decide, which stories to cover and what angles to take and to evaluate how this
is done.

Mr Emmanuel
Dogbevi, Executive Director of NewsBridge Africa and Managing Editor at Ghana
Business News, who organised the workshop and facilitated a session on Press
Releases and How to Pitch Stories, said there is no strait jacket rule for how
newsrooms should look like, owing to the different types and agenda of media
houses.

He said however the
basic principles that guide newsrooms should not be compromised.

He said it is
important for every newsroom to have leadership; at least two senior reporter
who had gone through the mill from being cub reporters, working as editors and
who could guide and groom younger reporters in their work of gathering
information.

“Newsrooms or
organisations in Ghana do not lack the requisite skills or people to do the
work, but there is no leadership; there is not the kind of leadership that
grooms reporters.

“Some newsrooms do
have but I don’t think most have,” he said.

He said there
should be a hierarchy and proper division of labour in the newsroom.

Mr Dogbevi said
there is a critical nature of journalism and the journalist’s role to the
development of the nation.

Journalists, he
noted, are not avenues for persons or groups to throw out information but are
under obligation by their training and principles of the profession to process
and package the information for public consumption.

“This could be done
by cross-checking facts, verifying and making sure you have multiple sources to
a story.”

He stated that
journalists on one hand have to show initiative by doing background checks on
assignments and determining the possible angles, and the editor should also do
checks and discuss with the journalists what angle to take and the possible
questions to ask at the event.

This, he said,
would also help reporters to pitch stories to their editors.

He called for more
focused training for journalists to make trainings relevant as well as
redesigning the models and training strategies to equip journalists with the
practical skills that would address their essential needs, especially
storytelling skills.

Mr Raymond Bayor,
Journalist and Communications Professional and facilitator of the broadcast
(radio) Journalism session at the training, said proper staffing is a
fundamental difference between newsroom in Ghana and some in countries like the
United States, where there is a resultant smooth work flow, with clarity on who
plays what role.

He said a
well-structured and properly-functioning newsroom has “incredible influence on
the quality of the reporting, as the right leadership leads to mentoring”.

He urged
journalists to learn from their colleagues in other jurisdictions as the
principles and ethics of journalism are the same everywhere although there may
be some socio-cultural differences.

GNA

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