The Ghanaian Journalist; a battle between Integrity & Survival

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    Entertainment of Friday, 4 March 2011

    Source: Edusei Boateng

    As old as any profession, Journalism has been of tangible benefit to the development and the sustenance of governance across the globe. Best described as the Gate-keeping profession, this noble art of creating, effective and well-represented dialogue platform between several vertically arranged parties mostly between the governed and the governor. Gate Keepers and sometimes referred to as the Fourth Estate of the Realm of governance ,the mandate of such a Para-political actor as the media is required to set the agenda for development as well as direct national debate to be people and society centered whiles she ensures that Office-Holders are made to account to the populace.

    In Context, the Ghanaian media has a similar charge if not the same as stated above, a solemn vow made through conscious and affirmed in our hearts and minds to represent the views and many voices of the Ghanaian people to hold office-bearers to account for the limited resources of a developing nation like Ghana.

    Since independence till date and more recently under the fourth republic, the Ghanaian journalist has under constrained circumstances performed this natural duty to serve humanity to the best of its ability as she continuous to demand accountability and attract attention to every day societal challenges which are sometimes ignored for obvious reasons.

    The Media landscape over the past decades has significantly seen improvement especially in the areas of legislation and instructional provisions at the expense of the very essence of the condition of services of the practitioners of this noble calling. Despite the setting up of a Professional association for professionals in the industry i.e. Ghana Journalist Association, GJA and regulatory agency as the National Media Commission, the condition of work for this vital agent of democratic governance has seen little or no improvement over these years.

    Contemporary Critics of Journalist especially in Ghana, continue to openly attack the profession for what is obviously known to them as low standard of practice among media professionals and therefore are calling for better and more public oriented selfless journalist such as ensuring accountability, the immediate model is the one and only Anas Ameyew Anas.Now as a response to this agitations several concerned civil society groups such as the Media Foundation for West Africa have organized series of capacity development workshops for journalist for several years and yet the result is like looking for water in a desert, very difficult indeed.

    The recent survey conducted by the Media Foundation on the conditions of service for Journalist in the country revealed a shocking and sorry state, yet such a campaign for better numeration of journalist died a natural death both in the print and electronic media after enjoying a day’s usual sympathy from the general public. This is not the first time such a trend has occurred and this gives course for worry especially when media practitioners showed no interest at all. What might have been the cause for such an occurrence when the issue is about us? Is it that we are shamed about our peculiarly bad situation? Or do not regard it as true or important better issues worthy of discussing on the airwaves? The answers to these questions are obvious.

    A critical and honest examination of this situation reveals that not all Journalist are working under such unacceptable conditions and as such not all are interested in such persuit.it is further important to state that most Presenter/Host as well as Editors are out of this unfortunate bracket and as far as they are concern such as the subject matter is not necessary at all. It is common knowledge that most of these persons are on the “Payroll” of political/interest groups across the country. Can you picture a situation where the leadership of Ghana Police Service or Armed Forces has been bought by an individual or group, either political or non-political? This is the state of the media in Ghana, a situation where those who are suppose to be Role Models have sold their conscious for material benefits, leaving the young practitioner on the crossroad of judging between Integrity and survival, a test which they have failed.

    According to Abraham Maslow theory of Needs, the three most essential ingredients to man are Food, shelter and housing, these are satisfied with money. Motivation in every profession is key to productivity and this primary truth that has been ignored by those that matter has been the cause of the downward slope of the practice of Journalism in Ghana.

    Every profession like Medical practitioner,Lawyers,Accountants among others have not only Code of ethics but required service conditions for their members, this is absent in the case of GJA,after launching the code of ethic for the profession early this year, the same has refused to acknowledge the sorry state of the profession. Again the National Labour Commission has shown less interest in the issues of cases of unpaid salaries of media professionals who have sought refuge under their ambit. How on earth will a practicing journalist receive GHC 100 a month and more seriously have arrears of two years with his employer?

    May be it is an attempt to punish Journalists for ensuring accountability from office -holders but what is to be said of the unstated silence from our Media colleagues who are the forefront of the airwaves,GJA,Civil society groups, whom we have help so much in their advocacy work, the general public, whom we have ensure that their rights are upheld and resources are judiciously used and finally the many editors who are old enough to be the fathers/mothers of these young practitioners, all these stakeholders should tell us if a campaign to restore the dignity of the journalism in Ghana is worthless. For civil society these development should help them to chatter a new course which shall hopeful produce positive results in enhancing media work in the country.

    At this point I shall congratulate all media persons in the country especially the young ones that have for so long suffered in silence and yet delivery on their mandate, continue the good work,dont be influenced to throw away dignity in exchange for survival because that will definitely not last, remember a good name is better than Gold.

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