The Ghanaian journalist, just like every journalist across the globe has over many years been the mouthpiece of almost every individual and organization in the country.
From challenges of rural folks concerning the absence of proper drinking water, deplorable roads amongst others, through making known, the plights of institutions such as teaching bodies, health institutions, private business, to circulating the good works of politicians, private institutions and cooperate bodies, the journalist, is always at the forefront.
The democratic gains of Ghana cannot be discussed excluding the active role of the media as the fourth estate. The media through many regimes has been a watchdog on behalf of the citizens and have caused numerous positive changes in the political space.
From the use of Newspaper publications to call for positive defiance which spark public protests against the abuse of political power through the use of investigative journalistic skills to uncover corrupt activities and the use of critical journalism skills to demand accountability from appropriate institutions, the journalist has done its best in sustaining the democratic gains of the country.
The Ghanaian journalist, the mouthpiece of the citizenry, it appears to have no or very shallow reaching voice for itself.
Though the Ghanaian journalist has numerous challenges, hardly do you hear the journo talk about these issues as passionately as it does about the issues of others.
One of such problems is the persistent attack on journalists. One will think that under the 4th republican democratic dispensation, the best thing any individual will do if he or she disagrees with the work of a journalist is to seek remedy from law enforcement agencies or the court. However, some persons have resulted to the verbal and physical abuse of journalists to register their displeasure at the woks of the Journo.
Journalists on assignments are sometimes beaten up and have their gadgets destroyed. One worrying issue with regards to the physical attacks on journalists is the involvement of agents of law enforcement institutions such as the police and national security in this very act. Not long ago, the news of the gangster-style raid of the premises of an online media institution where two journalists were “captured’ and allegedly tortured by operatives of the National Security over a publication concerning the National Security Minister Hon. Albert Kan-Dapaah got almost everyone in the media fraternity talking about the safety of journalists in the execution of their work.
Suffice to say that anyone who was optimistic, that after the wide condemnation from the media and some sympathizers of the media profession, such act was going to be the last to ever occur would have lost such hope following a similar arrest of Citi TV/Citi FM journalist Caleb Kuda, the gangster-style raid of the premises of the same institution to arrest Zoe Abu-Baidoo and the alleged assault of Caleb at the National security headquarters by persons who should know best, that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of jurisdiction and that a suspect should under no circumstance be assaulted.
More worrying are the threats on the lives of journalists by persons connected to power which has in some cases allegedly led to the subsequent death of a journalist. The mystery behind the cold-murder of Tiger-eye PI’s investigative journalist Ahmed Husein Suale is yet to be unravelled to make his unknown killers face the full force of the law. The raid of Starr FM’s Edward Adeti’s house few days after his investigative piece which revealed a cabinet Minister’s involvement in a bribery and corruption act to obstruct justice aired and several attempts on the life of investigative journalist Manasseh Azure which at a point, forced him to sneak out of Ghana to find safety in South Africa has amongst others, heightened the fears of many journalists and persons who have interest in practicing journalism.
One thing that beats the imagination of critical thinkers is the emanation of such attacks by persons in the political space.
Controversial Member of Parliament for Assin Central Constituency, Kennedy Agyapong has been cardinal in these attacks and threats on the lives of journalist. While his alleged involvement in the gruesome murder of Ahmend Suale is still the talk of town, his threats on the life of Luv FM Journalist Erastus Asare Donkor has given reason to the thought by some persons that he has a penchant for attacks on journalists.
Also, the casting of slurs on the credibility of journalists and their works is a very big challenge of practitioners of this profession. Some persons, especially people connected to power whose dealings under darkness are affected by the works of journalists have found great pleasure in tarnishing the image of journos and discredit their works. A few years ago, investigative journalists, Anas Aremeyaw Anas and Manasseh Azure Awuni were highly praised by millions of Ghanaians for their undercover means of unravelling corruption. However, these two journalists come under serious attack recently when they even share their opinions on issues of corruption and national interest. This problem isn’t limited to these two journos alone. Almost every credible media institution which has decided to do their work with strict principles of journalism has come under serious attack with their credibility placed in doubt.
The more troubling part is that some political party fanatics have bought into the slurs casted on the credibility of journalists and are always bare-teethed waiting to jump on journalists whose work will go against their parties or political leaders and devour them. One begins to understand after reconciling these challenges with others, the reason for which our ranking in press freedom as a country has been falling consistently for some years now.
It is important to note that treading on a path where the citizens have doubts in the work of journalists is a very dangerous idea. If citizens as a result of their love for political parties or some personalities decide to treat the works of journalists with a pinch of salt, the gateway for wrong doing will be opened. On the other hand, if journalists decide to bring their jobs to an end, it will be a period of doom for the country, there will surely be a rise in various dark crimes; there will be virtually nobody to act as watch dogs on behalf of the citizens, our democratic gains as a country will fast erode as some power-hungry persons will decide to abuse powers without accountability to anyone, the list continues on and on and on.
Importantly, one may ask that while the journalist speaks for the masses, who speaks for the journalist despite the numerous organizations and institutions associated with the profession. Meanwhile, another may ask that, if a journalist speaks for good working conditions and good working payouts for able-bodied men and women of a country, who speaks for the journalist replicating the issues encapsulated above?.
It is about time we take a second look at journalists in Ghana and honor them for the very critical and tremendous services they render to our country Ghana. It is not to say that Journalists are above criticism and reproach. Neither is it to say that there are no bad nuts in the journalism profession. But like in every profession, it is inappropriate to apply the theory of “one bad nut destroys all”