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What has happened to journalism in Ghana today?

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Mon, 29 Mar 2021 Source: Joel Savage

The old journalism I know, built on a selfless strong foundation, hard work, dedication, trust, representing a true version of freedom of speech in Ghana, is difficult to find in Ghana today.

In the past, the journalism in Ghana was able to preserve the best of Ghana as the beacon of West Africa; unfortunately, I can assure you that journalism is gradually losing its credibility in Ghana.

I wasn’t a full student at the Ghana Institute of Journalism. I only had courses in “Writing Skills, Public Relations, Advertising and Marketing,” in 1994.

To have a great lecturer and rector as David Newton for the courses, made journalism more appealing, interesting and a profession worth dying for in the truth.

Apart from my father, Justin Kodwo Savage, who was then a journalist at Guinea Press, now Ghanaian Times, after his death at the Broadcasting House, I met great journalists such as Willie Donkor, Elvis Aryeh, Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, George Sydney Abugri, Frankie Asare-Donkoh, Kofi Badu, Richard Jackson, Merari Alomere, Ben Ephson, and a host of others, including female journalists, that great works have inspired me.

The influence and impact of these journalists and many I couldn’t have the chance to meet are internationally known and are recounted with warm, sincere, and unrivaled craftsmanship that distinguishes them in the world of journalism.

One thing Mr. Newton told me that vividly stuck in my brain, is journalists supposed to remain neutral in doing their jobs and if possible be free from any political party.

They are only supposed to inform the public about debates, political and other events they cover so that the audience can make educated choices.

The fact is that most journalists in Ghana have broken these rules or the code of ethics governing journalism by identifying themselves as supporters and members of political parties.

Many people think once you write against a political party, then you are a member of a certain party in the country. I can’t mention the number of times I have been accused of being a member of the NDC political party, the fact that it’s one of the habits to write against the leader of NPP, Nana Akufo Addo.

Yes, it's true that I write much about Nana Akufo Addo because when John Mahama was then president, I wasn’t writing for any Ghanaian newspaper to share my opinion about his mistakes and corruption scandals that hit his government.

Yet still, I haven’t written anything about John Mahama, because he was declared a corrupt and dishonest person by Ghanaians. These are some of the reasons he lost the 2016 presidential elections. So if I may ask, why should I write about a president declared corrupt and no more in power? Does that make me a member of the NDC political party?

To me, it doesn’t make sense to write an article about Mahama even though not everyone will agree with me. However, it makes sense to write about Nana Akufo Addo.

He is the current president, who has given so many promises to Ghanaians, including the fight against corruption, yet things are not going right as he promised, moreover, he has been hit by more corruption scandals than John Mahama. I need to write about that.

That doesn’t mean I hate Nana Akufo Addo and like John Mahama. I have been in Belgium for over two decades and not affiliated with any political party. In a country where laborers or low-income people have their own houses and cars, it has never been a priority to vote, so I am forced to vote because I want to avoid being fined.

Speaking about the traditions of Ghanaian journalism, it was like nowhere else in West Africa. What has happened to journalism in Ghana today that many journalists in the country either give false information because they belong to political parties or fear to write about corruption and bad governance?

This makes me feel that journalism is losing its credibility in the country even though I can still hear the voices of a few of the old ones, such as Kwesi Pratt Jnr, dedicated to the profession.

Ghanaian journalists must acknowledge their importance in society to take their job very seriously because they can contribute to build a good society and collapse it as well.

Columnist: Joel Savage