General News of Monday, 4 September 2017
The Dean of the School of Information and Communications Studies, at the University of Ghana, Legon, Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, has described the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in its present state as a “victim of corporate capture.”
According to her, “instead of defending the interest of the members, the reason that it [association] exists, it is defending the interest of big business.”
The Multimedia Group and investigative journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni have been running a story on a contract between government and some subsidiary companies under the Jospong Group of Companies on the manufacture and distribution of waste bins for the past one week.
On Friday however, the President of the GJA, Mr Roland Affail Monney solely signed and issued a statement cautioning investigative journalists not to embark on a smear campaign against private businesses.
Mr Monney in a lecture on ethics in the statement cautioned the media to be circumspect in their reportage, especially with regard to investigative stories. He did not reference any example of a recent infraction by a journalist or a media house.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in a reaction condemned the GJA statement and urged the association not to undermine investigative and anti-corruption reporting.
Even though the GJA statement did not mention Manasseh Azure Awuni and Multimedia in particular, many have concluded that Mr Monney’s statement was in reference to the work of Mr Awuni on the Jospong Group.
Commenting on the development on Joy FM Monday evening, Prof Gadzekpo, herself a member of the National Media Commission (NMC) and a media and communications professor, said the timing of the GJA statement was very “curious”.
“It suggested to me that the association itself, not individual journalists, have fallen victim to corporate capture,” she explained.
She indicated that she was perturbed by the GJA statement on corruption and that it was shocking.
Prof Gadzepko said she was not sure of what the GJA meant by media trial in the statement and that “if investigations are going on and the media are producing information to prove their story…, it’s ongoing story, it’s a running story.”
“I’m not sure by what they mean by trial by the media, it’s always politicians who talk that way when they want to stop people from scrutinising.
“And I think it is shocking that the association will be issuing the statement to suggest that investigative journalists’ work amounts to trial by the media.”
Adding she said: “We know that our media is increasingly becoming corporatized. We also know that a lot of people engaged in business, big business people have bought media, and it looks like if we are not careful, just as politicians have captured some media people, co-opted them, big business will also do the same, so that when you do a story, when a journalist does a story, a small journalist with very little resources does a story, then you lean on your friends in the media or your own media house to shut them up.”
Responding to concerns that some members of the GJA have become so suspicious of the leadership of the association, Prof Gadzekpo said the GJA ought to examine those who lead the GJA.
“If you have leaders who are not strong enough, to defend you, you are going to have problems like this. I think that if the GJA cannot help its members, it certainly shouldn’t head it,” she said.