‘Pay sports journalists well to improve standards’

Renowned sports journalist, John Vigah, has appealed to media owners to offer better remuneration and wages to their sports journalists to cease the practise of over-reliance on ‘soli’ for survival.

Soli stems from the word – solidarity, of which favours in the form of gifts are given to journalists in the course of their professional duty.

According to Mr Vigah, poor salaries and wages received by sports journalists have ultimately resulted in the low standard of sports journalism witnessed in certain aspects of the profession.

“It is no secret that once journalists are showered with adequate amounts of gifts in the form of ‘soli’, it has the propensity and proclivity to influence their work in a negative manner – especially when you are doing stories that could affect such benefactors.”

He made these remarks in a speech at the launch of his second book titled “Sparkles and Shambles of the World Cup – Brazil 2014, at the International Press Centre in Accra, last Thursday.

Mr Vigah, who is also an award-winning Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) journalist in multiple categories including sports, features and investigative reporting, added that the inability of various media houses in the country to finance their reporters to major competitions, has led to reporters lacking the verve and guts to effectively criticise government or its officials – who are mostly responsible for shouldering these travels.

Advising his colleagues in the profession, Mr Vigah  charged them not to focus solely on the promotion of the game, but to equally seek to expose wrongdoings that hinder the growth of sports in the country.

He challenged sports journalists to uphold values such as professionalism, truthfulness, fairness, balance, objectivity and to perform their duty without fear or favour.

“A journalist’s pen, keyboard or microphone must state the facts in their unadulterated form without fear or favour, and if the facts are not twisted, then the journalist has nothing to fear.”

Mr Vigah bemoaned the tumultuous challenge involved in publishing a book , a situation he said hindered him from releasing a book on the 2010 World Cup and a prevailing condition discouraging most journalists from  pursuing or publishing literary works – calling for support from stakeholders to soften the process.

“I strongly believe a good number of my colleagues may have done works of this nature but are presently gathering dusts in shelves due to lack of financial backing and I would like to take this opportunity to implore corporate bodies, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and individuals to endeavour to support such literary works.”

Sparkles and Shambles of the World Cup – Brazil 2014, is a 170-page book that captures the highlights as well as low moments of Ghana’s participation at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

It touches on issues such as the airlifting of $4m cash from Ghana to Brazil; the suspected case of terrorists among Ghanaian supporters to Fortaleza and exciting scoops such as former Black Stars captain Asamoah Gyan earning the accolade as Africa’s all-time top scorer at the World Cup as well as the Black Stars breathtaking 2-2 draw against eventually winners Germany – adjudged as one of the best games of the tournament.

Mr Vigah’s first book: “Guide to Sports Journalism” was a bestseller widely used by sports journalists, administrators, students and fans.

He appealed to business entrepreneurs, philanthropists and individuals to collaborate with him to republish the “Guide to Sports Journalism” book, which is now out of print.


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