Home Editorial Quayson Writes : Journalism In Ghana

Quayson Writes : Journalism In Ghana


Apart from controversies in politics, business and entertainment in Ghana what else can the Ghanaian Journalists offer Ghanaians? Let’s sit up, journalism is not just about negative news but great insights, documentaries and discoveries.

Our Journalists must educate the public, I mean teach the public what they don’t know. I wonder how most of our Journalists will survive in countries like Switzerland, Singapore, Denmark, Finland, Polland, Iceland etc where there are less controversies?

Journalism must educate. How do you feel if from 8am to 5pm your work is centered around reporting issues that are of no use to Ghana’s development in anyway? Purely useless gossips and needless controversies.

Most Ghanaian Journalists don’t research, they just jump on the lastest gossip and put an article or write up accross. Can you people kindly write about science, architecture, technology, business, space exploration etc?

Journalists must see themselves as carriers of positive news not just negative news. We need research journalism not journalism of pulling people down and discussing the latest scandal.

Infact if you people do that there is no difference between an illiterate gossip and a trained Journalist. I commend Dr. Etse Sikanku of Class FM 93.1 Fm who educates us about world issues and current affairs. He also bring on board as his panelists very quality people from all over the world for very constructive interview. It’s just a delight to listen to his show on Fridays 9am to 12pm I think.

Below was an interesting response I got from a reader on Facebook when I tested the waters with this article and would like to critically analyse it too.

Response ( Larry Kamgbo Johnny) :

“Mr Emmanuel as you share your sentiment on the need of upgrading the functions of the journalistic work by not limiting it to only the three main cycle that seems to be the work of a journalist which is to educate,inform and entertain ,you are also of the view of seeing journalist do more documentries and descoveries thus absolutely fantastic on your part. But lest you forget we are living in a country where the freedom for information bill is still hanging in the skies, we are living in a country where journalists don’t even have a well equipped libraries where “proper” research can be carried to aid him or her to come out with perfect and concrete documentries or discoveries . To be sincere with you Ghana has well trained and technical journalist who when giving the necessary tools to work with my brother they will perform magic .So as we blame journalist we should also take time to seek their safety and freedom from been beaten and killed as well.”

My response to this statement is that no one doubts the fact that Ghana has well trained Journalists because after all BBC even comes for some of them but my only problem is they are not assertive enough when it comes to issues. Majority are only interested in negative news not educative news. Our airwaves is too jammed with political issues and I am only drawing their attention that there is more in the country that can be discussed or written about not just politics.

Bad news they say sells fast but if your tertiary training as a Journalist is to sell bad news then I am very sorry we can do better.

About libraries, the argument is neither here nor there because every information you are looking for is on the internet at the click of a buttom.

Speaking of research there is google, wikkipeadia and the likes that the Journalists can research from but they won’t rather they prefer to feed on gossip. They don’t even verify the authenticity of most news items and then they publish it or report about it. Later you will realise that what they reported on was not true.

Recently Dr. Paa Kwesi Ndoum was reported all over social media by lots of Journalists and bloggers that he had resigned as Chairman and President of Group Ndoum and all it’s subsidiaries. It turned out to be false news when the man came out to debunk that assertion.

Concerning the RTI bill I believe a journalist does not need law per say to practice his or her profession. If they will explore other areas of interest and feed the public with good information that will help enlighten the masses generally. Recently there has been this argument about government passing the Right To Information (RTI) bill, which is good because it will give journalists access to alot of public information and government activities but until then what are Journalists doing to foster development in Ghana since it looks like Parliament is dragging it’s feet on passing the bill?

You don’t per say need a law to practice your profession when there is indeed alot of areas in the economy that has not been touched on not just politics like culture, wildlife, lifestyle, science, agriculture, banking, security, industralisation, technology, environment etc. I am of the view that the Ghanaian Journalist can do more than waiting for a bill to be passed so they can report on government affairs.

Concerning brutalities on Journalists that is condemnable at any quarters as it limits them in a way and puts fear in them when they are approaching certain issues or people. This is not healthy for our young democracy.

Sight is not lost of the fact that Journalists suffer alot of brutalities on the field. Recently in Dubai Jamal Kasshogi was murdered by the Dubai consulate just by practicing his profession. Parker Wilson a Joy Fm reporter was also abused by the security detail of Ex-President Mahama.

Komla Dumor (late) is one fine Journalist I did admire but death laid his icy hands on him. Anytime I tune in to BBC and Joy Fm I miss him so much. May the good Lord keep his soul at rest.

Talking of BBC, this news hub has indeed alot to learn from. They have advanced so much so that they even report in our pidgin language which is a street language spoken mostly in Ghana and Nigeria. You can see how this News Channel is trying to cover grounds. They have partnered with GTV, TV Africa, TV3 and most of the important news channel in Ghana to get world news accross. I know they have done same in other countries. They are trying to get meaningful news accross not just gossip. Infact I learn more about my continent Africa from BBC and CNN than any African news channel network.

If we have to sit here for the white man to come and write stories about our own continent and teach us things about our own continent we are not aware of then are we moving forward or backwards? Knowledge they say is the key to freedom. If Africans don’t know much about it’s continent then how do we become free because freedom comes from knowledge?

Even in our news, documentaries, discoveries, films on our wildlife etc we still have to depend on the white man to come and expose it to us, then are we still not slaves to them?

Surely you can trust them also not to show the good picture of Africa to the rest of the continents. Africa has beautiful places, wildlife, lifestyle and culture but these foreign press will only project the negative part of Africa like wars, famine, genocides, evil happenings, our filth and many more unpleasant things about Africa. This is something our journalists in Ghana should be doing not focusing solely on internal wranglings by uncaring corrupt political parties in our continent and negative news that does not get us anywhere in terms of development.

Tune in to any local TV or radio or radio station and all you hear is Shatta Wale controversy, a man sleeping with a goat, a woman who poured acid on a cheating lover, a watchman that stole school rice meant for school feeding programme, a female artist whose panty or was exposed during a show etc. Just Useless news which does not benefit the country anyway. We need to grow in our practice as Journalists.

Honestly I feel so sad about the posture of Journalism in this country today. There is a general sense of lying in wait with all readiness for the next negative news. It’s like our Journalists have laid an ambush waiting to catch the next worst person that commits a crime, does something bad, a scandal or any evil of that sort so they can crucify him in their reportage. No, that is not the way of Journalism. We got it all wrong. You see Journalists being celebrated for breaking an evil news first and they are actually in competition as to who can report first on the next negative news.

This is not good and we need to change that perception and attitude towards Journalism in this our beautiful land. The world all over the most celebrated Journalists in BBC, CNN, Aljazeera and the like are being celebrated for the professional, educative and revealing nature of the work not because they report on negative news. We speak of the Jonathan Mann, Christine Anapoun, Anderson, Larry King etc. These are highly intelligent Journalists you would love to watch and listen to because you learn so much from their interviews. Their command over the English language and the dynamics they display when questioning is just beautiful.

Locally we also have some quite clever Journalist like Paul Adom Otchere, Bernard Avle, Dr. Etse Sikanku, Kwame Sefa Kai, Awudu Moro, Prince Minkah, Irene Ampaw, Manasseh Azure, Randy Abbey, Chief Jerry Forson, Ridwan, Nana Aba Anamoahetc. These are very fine Journalists who make the profession look so beautiful with their intelligent display of their craft. I commend them for their efforts in the industry.

Whiles others are practicing the profession in all seriousness, others have also turned it into comedy. When you listen to the news being read in some of our radio stations, you will laugh till your head falls off especially those read in our local language. Full of lots of comedy and I realise it is this kind that don’t educate the public just create laughter and comedy. Well in a way laughter is good but we need to differentiate between comedy and journalism. Akrobeto has taken to UTV and Lil Wayne (Kwadwo Nkansah) with their comical way of presenting news to Ghanaians. I mean it’s all good for business and laughter but I can tell you that these untrained comedians have more following than most trained professional Journalists in this country when you check YouTube. Surely there is something wrong somewhere if people will tune I to the works of a comic actor yet pay less heed to that of a professional Journalist then we need to work harder.

Others are also very arrogant on the airwaves and I will not miss words but mention someone like Captain Smart of Adom Fm 106.3 fm. I mean we all hate corruption and we understand he is bringing out information on corrupt practices in the country but the way he goes about it is just repulsive to me. The arrogant nature with which he throws questions to his interviewees is just unbearable to me. Personally I have never tuned in to him before but I always chance upon his radio show and he needs to watch that.

His approach is what I call “Journalism of crucifixion” waiting for you to faulter so he can throw light on you and disgrace you for the whole public to see. That is not Journalism, it is “Hate Journalism” and self-aggrandizement in the eyes of the public as though he was a hero. Because of this people leak information to him from their work places, their bosses, fraudulent activities, their homes etc.

I believe if you have facts and figures bring the issues out and forward evidences to Attorney General and the law courts to address the issue not just sitting on radio, lambasting with no action, purely gossip. That is not Journalism.

Journalism must educate and present the issues as they are yet in a dignified and a professional manner. Every human being has a right and the fact that someone has offended does not mean his right is lost so let’s approach issues in a very professional way.

There are some which I also term “Lazy or Copy Cat Journalism”. They never go out there to search for original news but would wait for a major radio, TV station or Newspaper to unveil a story then they will without due diligence, verification or further checks, “copy” that same news in different grammar, language, feature or style and present it to the public. Meaning, if the original source is mistaken, all the “copy cats” will also faulter. It’s quite funny when you think of it.

There has been several news in this country where almost all the reporters were wrong. You can see they just copied from a source and that led to the rippling effect just like students copying themselves in an exams.

Indeed it’s about time we hold in high esteem the reputable profession of Journalism because it is in actual fact one of the most beautiful professions on Earth because it places you in the public eye.

Who doesn’t like fame and attention? Everyone does and journalism offers that bid. It gives you respect and recognition when people watch, read or hear you. Many beautiful girls and handsome boys want to grow up to become Journalists because of the beauty of it.

Let’s not lower it’s standards merely to gossip, comedy and bad practices but let’s see it as an opportunity to brand ourselves whiles we give the public insight about the world around them. Let’s see Journalism as the eyes, ears, mouth and legs of the whole public.

Yes! Eyes because what the public cannot see, the Journalist will go and and see it, investigate it and report to them.

Yes! Ears because what the public does not hear or was not present, the Journalist will go and hear it and come and report to them.

Yes! Legs because where all the public cannot go to, they count on the Journalist to go there and bring them “good” news.

In all this let conscience be the ultimate guide in the practice of Journalism as what you report on can make or unmake a person or situation.

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