Journalists urged to protect integrity of journalism and avoid ‘soli’

Journalists have been advised to build their knowledge base and upgrade themselves academically to protect the integrity of the profession and avoid commercial journalism.

This advice were given by Mr Kwesi Binney, a veteran journalist, urged journalists to shift form excessive politics to development journalism to enable them to effectively interrogate and probe developmental issues.

Journalists, he said must be humble to accept criticisms and apologize when necessary.

He gave the advice while he led a peer review held by the Western Regional Branch of the Ghana Journalists Association to mark 2014 World Press Freedom Day celebration under the theme “Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda.”

Mr Binney said though no journalist had been jailed for the past 20 years, the media houses and journalists ought to continue to fight for credibility as it was being lost by the day.

“Journalist ought to know that the message is as important as the messenger, do not be complacent due to the repeal of the criminal libel and seditious law” he said. Say no to commercial journalism

Speaking on the issue of “soli” – money paid to journalists by organisers whose events they cover-,  the veteran journalist expressed shock at open declaration by some journalists that they charge before moving their television cover content for their media houses.

Mr Binney cautioned them to stop because it was an unethical behavior, that must not be encouraged.

He urged them to desist from charging fees from event organisers unless it was a corporate decision.

“When you are invited to cover their assignments and you discharge your functions well, you earn the full respect and not to harass the organisers,” he said.

He described the commercialism of journalism as a worrying trend and charged the GJA to take steps to eliminate the practice from the profession, adding, “Commercial journalism defeats the purpose of journalism being a tool for development and empowerment of the weak and vulnerable in society.”

The veteran journalist who worked for critically acclaimed newspapers such the Daily Graphic in a career that spanned decades said, journalists should ensure that they uphold the code of ethics that governed their profession at all times, so as to enable them deliver on their responsibilities to the society.

For her part, Madam Felicia Yeboah, the Manager of Ghana News Agency (GNA) urged the reporters to go back to the days of championing the views of the communities and bringing their needs to the attention of the policy makers.

Commercialising journalism, she said, degrades the profession and must not be encouraged.

The Western Regional Chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association, Mr Moses Dotsey Aklorbortu, urged members to take the advice of Mr Kwesi Binney and Madam Felicia Yeboah seriously to help shape the development of the communities.

“If we fail to champion the development agenda of communities we operate, probe the issues of underdevelopment created the needed awareness through development journalism, we will incur the anger of our communities,” Mr Aklorbortu said.

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