Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sad day for Ghanaian journalism, but I feel vindicated

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

On Saturday, October 25, 2008, The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the august organization that I belong to, organized its 13th Awards Night, but without the highlight of the Night – the Journalist of the Year Award!

According to the GJA the entries submitted were of such poor quality that they did not merit the award. This development saddens me, but in the same vein it makes me feel vindicated.

The event has loudly confirmed what I have been complaining about for so long and it appears no one has been listening - the low level to which journalism has fallen in Ghana!

Lots of the people, who are practicing journalism in Ghana today, appear to be hirelings with no particular attachment to the noble profession. The same is the case with some media owners whose only supreme interest is profit. They make no attempt whatsoever to find the link between the mission of journalism which is to serve the majority of the underprivileged and change society for the good and profit. They are only motivated by profit!

And often when they achieve the mission, it is only by accident.

I remember sometime ago I wrote an article titled "In Ghana something is mightier than the pen” in which I chronicled the heroic history and development of Ghanaian journalism, citing some of the great individuals who paid their due to Mother Ghana and the noble profession.

Soon after I wrote another article titled, "How bland mediocrity succeeds on numbers in Ghana.”, in this article I criticized poor customer service and the kind of journalism that is being pushed down the throat of the good people of this beloved country. As to be expected, a Ghanaian graduate student in the United States wrote a rejoinder to this particular article and launched a scathing attack on my person without addressing the issues I raised in the article.

Not long ago, I wrote another article, "How plagiarists, pirates and profiteers invade a noble profession.”

Two people came to me to complain that the article was too harsh. But just two or three days later an incident led one of them to come back to me and thank me for writing the piece.

There is too much mediocrity in journalism in Ghana. But we refuse to admit it so we could address it.

I felt so ashamed when I was listening to the Information Minister, Asamoah Boateng admonish journalists at the event to show respect to their own organization.

I do not see why a professional belonging to an organization to which principles he or she is subjected to would flout with impunity the norms of the organization. But it happens so often in Ghana, that it has to take the Minister to call us to order.

This again, to me is another confirmation of how far Ghanaian journalism has fallen.

Because any journalist worth his or her salt who belongs to the GJA, would not only submit his or her works to professional scrutiny but more so, as a professional, when such a person falls short in the performance of his or her duty, it is only proper, legally and morally to submit yourself to sanctioning by duly constituted legal bodies.

Listening to our radio stations or watching our TV stations, one could see some great stuff coming out of them, but more often than not programming on our airwaves are becoming less edifying.

As for the majority of our newspapers, the least said about them the better.

In the name of good old noble journalism, some media organizations are practicing plagiarism as if there is no law in this country which stipulates how intellectual property ought to be treated.

The fact that the GJA cannot find any journalist worthy of recognition as journalist of the year is loud enough for the true journalists among us to stand up and be counted.

And I hope this incident would serve as a wake up call to those journalists for whom, journalism is more than just working to put bread on the table, but more than that it is a life-long commitment to serve humanity and change lives for the better.

PS: Sadly, I couldn’t enter the awards competition because the GJA did not include online journalists in any category.

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