The Sinking Image Of Journalism In Ghana

Thu, 17 Jun 2010 Source: Daily Dispatch

Journalism in Ghana appears to have been reduced to a pedestrian vocation that is open for mass participation as though there are no rules or values guiding the practice.

Not only have charlatans and pretenders, with the unflinching backing of their sponsors, found it easy to hijack the noble profession for their own parochial interests, but they have also succeeded in carving a certain image for the profession.

This has effectively distorted the true image of journalism in the country and the general quality and depth of journalism today leaves much to be desired.

A careful look at the profession shows that the media is covering mostly what is not news, but ordinary everyday gossip and publishing of stories in a manner that defies journalistic principles. At the height of this rather unacceptable situation is the blatant abuse of copyright laws of Ghana and intellectual property rights of others.

Even though the copy right law makes it clear to credit sources, some journalists deliberately copy materials from other sources and put them up as their own. In spite of a number of calls been made to the media to curtail such practices, the situation has not changed but rather worsened.

Journalists forget to credit sources on line, even though they are profiting from other people’s work, they refuse to acknowledge them where it is due. If the law comes up hard on intellectual thieves, it will serve a good purpose and put bad journalists on check.

Renowned journalists has urged all media houses to prioritize and catch up with global advancement or revolution whether financially sound or not, otherwise journalist will find themselves swimming in the technological tide.

Where Ghana is today, quality is required of the media to bring out good quality economic and business reportage, ensuring that economic and business stories can sell when done professionally without any political colouring.

There is therefore the importance to promote quality economic and business reports on Ghana through the net. A lot of people now see journalism as an avenue to acquire “wealth” as more and more people are trooping into the profession for monetary gains.

Recently, a colleague journalist told me of a shoemaker who has quit his trade to join the inky fraternity for good business deals as an hour or two at assignment can earn him a minimum of Gh¢ 10, an amount better than eight hours of hustle and bustle.

Fighting over transportation known in the inky fraternity in Ghana as “soli” is the pre-occupation of most of these quack journalists. Due to their attitude, the term “soli” has become known even in non media circles. While this is worrying, another class of these quack journalists has emerged from nowhere, distorting the image of the profession even further. This class of people attends programmes or assignments for the food or what is known as “small chops”-savouries and drinks.

I happened to be taking a bite at one such function. At my table at that function were three neatly dresses gentle men. Before then I had heard about that group who come to assignment for food. Eavesdropping on their conversation, I heard them talking about a programme one of them had attended the day before and how a security man had noticed him and tried to sack him.

Narrating his ordeal at the programme to his friends in the “game”, he said the security man tired to challenge him as to what he want at the programme, as he has spotted him at a number of programmes prior to the one he was attending. Apparently the programme they were talking about was a funeral he had attended, an indication that media assignments are not their only business. Then they recounted how they attend one programme upon the one including engagements and funerals to eat and drink.

When the security man at the said funeral confronted him, he said the one whose funeral it was, is a man from his region -Kwahu- so he had every reason to be at the funeral, and more over obituaries indicate that all sympathizers are invited hence his decision to attend that funeral. The same I heard them say, applies to assignments and programmes they attend, they register, take speeches and pretend to be journalist, however, this particular group is not interested in soli, they only take speeches to be accepted as journalists and gain entry into a programme but their sole interest is in food, beverages, pastries, drinks and anything food! so far as they can get enough. Unlike the other group who register in the name of a non-existent media house or one not in the capital and are basically young guys whose main interest is in soli, this group is made up of grownups in ages ranging from forty (40) and above.

A common characteristic of both groups are that they will go to the extent of fighting any impediment in their way including organizers of programmes when they are told they were not invited to such functions. They come to assignments very late yet would fight over soli and are ready to fight any body even professional journalists who challenge them of their affiliation to a media house. This attitude of getting soli drives them to even register in the name of a media house whose reporter is busy conducting interviews or is taking down important notes for a story.

Aside soli and food they pack and eat like greedy monsters, they are also smart and would steal anything including mobile phones, pen drives, notepads, recorders and anything valuable they can lay hold of. The situation is getting worse by the day that it has become so embarrassing, when such incidents happen at assignments, some times in the presence of important personalities in the country as well as from other countries.

What is the Ghana Journalist Association doing to curb this rather disturbing attitude tarnishing the name of the profession not only in Ghana but to the outside world through journalists who come to the country for internship programmes? Programme organizers and Public relation officers must also ensure they allow into their programme only invited media houses even though information should not be concealed from the public but for decency sake strict measure such as inspection of identity cards, invitation letter among others must be applied in covering assignments.

The journalism that was practiced and held in high esteem some time past is no more attractive and noble as it should be. The earlier something was done about this, the better, to save journalists and the country from this shameful episode of journalism for food and soli.

Soure: Felicity Boachie-Danquah – Daily Dispatch

Columnist: Daily Dispatch