By Joseph Ziem
My biological father, Mr. David K.K. used to brag a lot about the fact that, his son (this writer) is a journalist. Many a times, he bragged when I’m with him in a gathering and my “eti kelenkele”¬ –big head, would swell bigger than I could ever imagine. His perceptions about journalists were not different at all from others’; journalists are great people, powerful and highly intelligent.
However, what he didn’t also know about the other side of my profession was that, as a journalist I’m not supposed to be partial or perhaps he knew, but took it for granted; it never occurred to him that one day I’ll turn my pen against him or another member of our family.
In fact, the reality dawned on him one day when he found out that it was through my reportage that an extended member of our family fell into the grips of the police. The story was about some local alcoholic drink (akpeteshie) sellers in the Tamale Metropolis who sold another brand of the drink called “laka” – a mixture of akpeteshie and marijuana to some special category of customers upon request.
What saved this relative of ours was that, she was pregnant. Thus, the police decided to discontinue with her prosecution and cautioned her to stop selling laka to her customers even if they were willing to pay good money.
Since that incident, I don’t know up till now whether my dad still brags about me like the way he used to, but he asked me why I did that and I retorted, “If she was truly my sister, she wouldn’t have done what she did.”
Dear reader, in the past few months of 2013 I wrote a couple of thought provoking articles about certain public and private institutions/offices (names withheld) which were published in The Daily Dispatch Newspaper, Ghanaweb (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/columnist.php?S=Ziem,%20Joseph) and other social media sites.
Those publications actually got a lot of discerning individuals thinking and begun to asked questions. Some of the questions urged me on to even write on other matters that were of serious concern to right thinking Ghanaians who wish perfection for everything.
On the other hand, others who could be labelled as unpatriotic Ghanaians also thought that I was overly critical without any bases or facts and perhaps had a personal agenda intended to tarnish the image of such institutions/offices. Yes, I didn’t have facts (I wasn’t in a position to establish the facts of the information given me), nonetheless I somehow trusted my sources. Besides, I had it at the back of my mind that I could be misled by those sources, so I avoided making categorical statements in my articles based on the information provided by them regarding concerns or allegations raised against such public and private institutions/offices.
In fact, I used the most appropriate journalistic language to send the concerns of my sources, some of whom work within and outside those institutions, across for the public to judge for themselves. I also made direct and indirect recommendations to these institutional heads regarding how some of the concerns and sentiments expressed by the public and persons they work with could be addressed.
Poor Ziem! An official of one of the institutions chose to accuse me of being sponsored by some individuals and/or group of persons to write what I wrote about his organization instead of commending me for drawing their attention to what people within and outside the organization perceived them to be. What sponsorship meant in the context he used it, I don’t know. But he was courageous enough to say “It might not be money per se but giving you information is another way of sponsorship”, he said cunningly.
Ever since I heard such a remark, I have begun to think that some of these people see me as enemy of progress rather than a friend. Well, I think many people who think like him are somehow right to say that some people sponsor me with information, after all journalists survive on information and the only time such information will not be used by journalists is when it bothers on “NATIONAL SECURITY”, I stand to be corrected though.
Besides, the heads of such institutions should know that, the ultimate prize they pay when it becomes almost impossible for the people they serve to come closer to them and express views or concerns they have, is when they resort to the media to do their bidding.
Moreover, one of the reasons why people working within public or private institutions will divulge information to the media about certain happenings in their offices is when they want the media to speak for them or draw the attention of some mighty powers elsewhere to what is happening. You may call it corporate espionage or whatever you deem fit, but if such happenings are incongruous enough to harm the progress of the institution, such workers in my view would not have committed any sin or crime if they leak information to the public especially the media.
The public believe that, the media is one of the most effective ways to use to fight any authority that tries to gag them or suppress their right to free expression especially when they have legitimate concerns to be addressed.
Interestingly or sadly however, there was not a single rejoinder from Chief Executive Officers or Public Relation Officers of any of those institutions that came under my spectacle, thus warranting me to bring them to the public domain for what I call peer review. This posture by the CEOs and PROs of the particular institutions sought to further confirm the impressions of the public particularly those who read my articles, that the issues raised were true or indeed existed in their organizations.
Characteristic of such institutions, that is, in their attempt to gag me, some of their ill-advised officials WARNED me sternly to stop writing such articles that apparently subject them and their institutions to public scrutiny and ridicule, otherwise they’ll sue me so that I’ll learn some bitter lesson (s).
Is it wrong, therefore, for me to conclude that such remarks by officials of the institutions that were affected by my articles are out on a personal vendetta? For instance, you aren’t the judge of the supposed court that you wish to drag me to if I don’t stop writing negative articles (in your opinion) yet you think that I’ll loose and eventually learn some lesson from my actions. There is a saying that, “The fact that you are the first to go to court does not actually mean that you will win”.
Also, it is laughable to say the least, for anyone including those officials to think or suggest that, the problems that exist in their institutions are far less serious or trivial than what exist in other institutions. I want to let you know that, such complacencies are dangerous and if you continue to think in that direction you might soon find yourselves even overtaking such institutions you claim yours is better than in terms of size of “mal-administrative” problems.
Furthermore, there are others who have threatened to kill me or put me under a spell. Well, I know that it’s only non-Christians and non-Muslims who engage in such acts. A true Christian does not kill nor harm a soul created by the Omnipotent El-shaddai in HIS own image and neither does a true Muslim indulge in any of such acts, except agents of the devil or satan (Lucifer, his real name).
In any case, do you know the number of journalists who have been killed by enemies of PRESS FREEDOM, JUSTICE and TRUTH, yet the desire by journalists to consistently bring to bear what happens at the blind sight of society never ceases? Or better still, ask yourselves whether if you kill or sue me or do whatever you think you can do to me, will that bring an end to the so-called negative reportage against your institutions?
Mr. CEO and Mr. PRO, I know your perfect understanding of journalism is publishing only and only good things. However, anything negative published by a journalist like me is considered ‘yellow journalism’. As much as I’m a stakeholder and believer of the institutions which you’re the head doesn’t mean that when you stray or attempt to stray, I shouldn’t talk about it. I’ll help you build your institution, but note that there is a watchman watching you. After all, journalism is publishing what others don’t want to be published; everything else is public relations.
Father, locate and arrest all evil words spoken against my life and that of my family. Arrest every demonic personality assigned to police these curses and change their hearts and minds to seek perfection. Let the curses be broken by the superior sacrifice of the Blood of Jesus.
The writer is a freelance journalist and a social media fanatic based in Tamale. Views or comments may be sent to him via email@example.com