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Journalism made simpler by Internet?

Thu, 14 Aug 2008 Source: GNA

(By:Veronica Commey, GNA Sports)

Accra, Aug 14, GNA - The usage of Internet keeps soaring with opinions split on the exact effects and benefits of the technology that has brought so much to the fore in all areas of life. Today, the Internet is seen as a vital ingredient of the everyday activity of professionals and non-professionals, the journalist inclusive.

It is not just by chance that one can no longer claim ownership of any piece of information as long as it can be located on the Internet - something that could make anyone say journalism could have been made simpler by this great technology.

In the life of the Ghanaian Sports journalist today, knowing less about the usage of Internet means resigning oneself to the noticeable truth that others would forever break the news whiles you continually stay in their shadows.

For the sports journalist, whether it is the search for a new coach or past record of an athlete, all one must do is to enter the particular item in the commonest search engine, "google," and one can bet enriching facts will pop up to drive a story.

It cannot be accidental that radio stations often mimic each other because they source their information from the same Internet portal. The noticeable difference in what they churn out is perhaps their presentation.

Recently when the search for a replacement of Black Stars Claude Le Roy began after the French had left Ghana in the cold citing personal reasons, the consistency with which the media named prospective successors via the power of Internet brought to the fore the fact that reliance on this grand technology in the day to day activity of the journalist is a growing trend.

Through it all, one is tempted to ask if the Internet has positively or otherwise affected the work of the journalist and reduced one to a desk reporter in this noble art of news dissemination. Long gone are the days where local stories remained dominant in both newspapers and on radio.

The craze for foreign information for sports has grown overboard; little wonder that one can sit through an entire Television or Radio programme and can barely count the number of issues that are local. Amazingly, an entire programme is sometimes dedicated to Internet-related stories with phone lines opened for the public to air their views with passion and vigour.

It has become common occurrence for the journalist today to depend on internet stories instead of the usual hard work injected into moving through the various associations in search of scoops to produce stories that seek to build on the development of the discipline. Information gathering may have been made simpler, but the effect it has registered on the thorough journalist cannot be underemphasized. Hard work has been diluted in every sense of the word and it is partly the reason why many sporting disciplines are marking time instead of catching up with the passion of the nation - soccer.

A whole newspaper can afford to fill space with information on foreign footballers or stars and their wives, girlfriends, mansions, wealth, lifestyle etc and one can bet sales will soar. Be as it may, the allure of sales is a big draw but how often have we been truthful enough to ask ourselves what we have done as journalists to ensure people are held accountable for their failure to promote their various disciplines instead of continually finding excuses as to why discipline cannot be represented at a continental or global event?

The painful truth is many media personnel believe it is enough to once in a while chip in a story or two on the so called less-endowed sports whiles the greater part of space and time is dedicated to internet-searched stories.

Ghana presented the smallest contingent ever (six boxers and three athletes) at the Beijing Olympic Games underway in China partly because whilst the media stayed busy furnishing the public with internet made stories, most of the associations and the men at the helm of affairs lost sight of their duty to ensure that their disciplines were given the maximum attention to produce the right athletes to represent the nation. We must be seen, as taking major interest in issues that will bring holistic development into sports instead of hiding behind an invented "passion of the nation" that realistically is producing results only at the senior level.

It is easier to advance the argument that the masses are offered what they want, but isn't it a truism that until something was offered, one could not even tell what recipients wanted anyway? It is natural to want to stay glued to one's comfort zone, but not when you have a glaring responsibility to inform, educate, entertain and develop!

The Internet stories we duel on today, is a fine product of someone's decision to travel the extra mile to bring to the forefront issues that have only been developed through hard work, dedication and the will to make a difference.

It is imperative that as journalists we set a proper agenda for our target listeners and readers alike. That role is a tough one but it is a contract we signed with those who consume our produce the day we chose this profession and is about time we abide by our side of the agreement.

Columnist: GNA