Barely a week ago another sad news of the sudden death of a Ghanaian journalist occurred in line of duty.
Much has been said and reported on the death, which occurred as a result of a tragic accident while returning to Accra from Ho, in the Volta Region on a national assignment with the President, John Dramani Mahama.
Media reports have it that The Ghanaian Times reporter, Samuel Nuamah, died on the spot while other reporters on the same vehicle are battling for their lives.
The journalists, we know too well, talks about everything under the sun apart from what affects them.
Deducing from reports circulating in the social and traditional media, the accident, which took the precious life of the promising journalist, was avoidable and unnecessary.
That is the price of not providing standard safety and security for a journalist working at the highest office of the land.
In Ghana, today, the journalist has been taken for granted in many ways. They are treated as second-class dignitaries at events where they have been legitimately invited.
In some cases, they sit at different tables, which are considered as tables for the ‘press’ at receptions after events, and they are highly looked down upon. Even though they are the primary conduits.
Vehicles that pick them for assignments are not the best. They are made to be transported on vehicles that could be best described as not road worthy. At the same time organisers of events ride comfortably in very luxurious and secured vehicles.
It must be noted that the journalist is equally important as all people who take part in all events and therefore, must be accorded the needed courtesies.
It takes journalists to initiate and follow-through on everything needed for the citizenry to know from interviews to document requests. They turn raw data and information into easily digestible knowledge for public consumption.
One time Irish playwright, poet and author Oscar Wilde said “by giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.” This is more than true. Without the journalist mankind will be put in total darkness, by way of dissemination of information.
The Journalist is involved in all major public events. Renowned actors in society use the journalist to promote their course. Such beneficiaries of the products of the journalist must place foremost value on the journalist and in turn identify their worth and deal with them accordingly.
The Journalist provides the fundamentals for effective public sphere which also promotes dynamic society and democracy. All sectors and hierarchies of governance and even the media need the journalist. The security sector, the judicial sector and indeed all sectors depend heavily on the journalist. His role in exerting the needed pressure for societal fairness and accountability cannot be overemphasized.
Journalists in Ghana, have not deemed themselves as kings or queens and have not demanded any preferential treatment, but at least they must be treated from all fronts as any other person attending events.
The journalist’s circumstance in Ghana has worsened with the proliferation of media houses in the country. Most of them are over used but at a very bargain-basement wages.
Some are just paid meager allowances while most of them do not have workplace conditions of service. Others do not enjoy any form of remuneration and heavily rely on organisers of event for survival.
Circumstances are such that majority of journalists in the country today are at the mercy of media managers.
Fortunately the situation is not the same with all journalists. Some, indeed, have identified their worth and positioned themselves accordingly.
There is the urgent need for support systems for the Ghanaian journalist to help whip up their confidence and self assertiveness to enable them present themselves as worthy for all purposes and occasion.
All stakeholders in the industry, especially the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), among others, must ensure that these noble professionals providing special impetus to our democracy do not unnecessarily kowtow to pressure of their plights.
The adherence to professional norms and codes as well as the personal background, values and opinions not forgetting his experience of in-work training and socialisation are all key factors to build up the professional capacity of the journalist
Journalism in fact, is a very noble profession, to say the least; no wonder the media is placed forth within the governance structure of the country.
They should standout as professionals who would not only be used and dumped afterwards.
They must demand not only what is due them but more importantly what is befitting and also appropriate for them from all quarters of their operations.
By Nana Sifa Twum