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Feature Article of Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Columnist: Gyesi, Zadok Kwame

Who is to blame?

Ghana, the then Gold Coast being the fourth country in Africa to experienced the broadcasting on the 31st July 1935 by the effort of the Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Arnold Hodson, popularly called the “Sun Shine Governor”, has come of age of experience. Starting with the Radio ZOY located in a small bungalow on the 9avenue road near the Ridge Police Station with small relay equipment, the Ghanaian media have recently taken a new dimension.

With the enactment of the 1992 constitution of the republic of Ghana which has a provision of the establishment of the Ghana media Commission to issue license, and thus liberalizing the ownership of private media houses for the dissemination of information to the patriotic citizens of Ghana, the number of the state and private media houses have increased tremendously over the past decade.

The impacts of the media have affected the lives of every breathing soul of the republic of Ghana in diverse ways. Being the social platform for entertaining, informing and educating the public, Ghanaian media have received credible and enviable commendation from world over due to their excellent practice of broadcasting.

With this new emerging media for mass communication, the country’s first leader Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah established, Ghana Institute of Journalism, the then Ghana School of Journalism to train professionals who would be employed in this flourishing profession. He did this to ensure professionalism and high quality delivery of information dissemination in Ghana and Africa at large.

The 1992 constitution of the republic of Ghana has called for the establishment of an institution known as the Ghana Media Commission to ensure the scrutiny and the censorship of the practice of the numerous media houses and broadcasters.

The Ghana media Commission is tasked to ensure thorough professionalism in the practice communication, but seems to have deviated from its mandate as a body empowered by the 1992 constitution of the republic of Ghana to regulate the activities of this indefatigable profession. The article 167 clause B of our constitution clearly state and I quote, “To take all appropriate measures to ensure the establishment and maintenance of the highest journalistic standards in the mass media, including the investigation mediation and settlement of complaints made against or by the press or other mass media”.

As quoted above, one role of the Ghana media Commission is to ensure “Highest journalistic standards”, but the question is, what measures has the commission puts in place to ensure and achieve this role as clearly stated in the constitution. The media commission is put to answer the following questions; (1). Who is supposed to practice journalism? (2). Do they issue license to the practitioners in the communication industry? (3). what requirement must one meets before practicing journalism? (4). How do they monitor the activities and conducts of the media practitioners? (5). Can anyone without the requisite training practice journalism?

It’s so sad and heartbreaking to listen and read some of the utterances and publication of some media professionals over the years in Ghana, but the media commission sits repugnance without taking any measures to curb this antipathy act the media is indulging itself. The graceful image of the media has been soiled with an indelible mark of disgrace due to its impunity and poor standards in the delivery of their services. Immorality has therefore taken the government of the Ghanaian media with obbligato choice of obscenity and offensive language. The cause of these low standards of unprofessional delivery of the Ghanaian media has been attributed to the fact that most of the media practitioners or broadcasters lack the fundamental skills and ethics of journalism because they are not trained.

Journalism in Ghana like any other profession has lost its integrity because of some character exhibited by some practitioners who profess to be journalist, but lack formal training. Just as one cannot and will never be allowed to practice law or medicine without the needed qualification and requirement, the practice of journalism or communication has become so liberal that anyone may just sit behind the microphone and cameras to utter words into hearing of the public without the needed qualification. The effects of the practice of journalism and broadcasting by untrained personnel who claim to be broadcasters, but have no formal training have started manifesting itself in Ghana over the years.

The Ghana Media Commission is a powerless entity which only exists in name, but in actual sense does not contribute to ensure positive image and development of the press in Ghana. I would not want to regard them as toothless and liability to this country, but vehement to the pabulum of some Ghanaians, and should either be abolished and set up new body to revamp the image of media commission or dissolve the entire management of the commission with a new management and personnel to work effectively.

If the unqualified personnel who clothes themselves as journalist, working in the various media houses in Ghana are not expel from the media, their actions are probable to plunge the tranquility and liberty we have enjoyed in this beloved country into a state of despair. Ghanaians should take intensive lesson from what led Rwanda into their genocide in 1994.It was through the effort of some unscrupulous journalist who orchestrated songs of war and instigated one ethnic group, the Tutsis against the Hutsis. The media is such a powerful profession that could tear a country apart within the twinkle of an eye, and therefore must be monitored tactically and professionally. Because its powerful nature, the Prime Minister of South Africa, Hendrik Verwoerd said, “Television is like an atomic bomb and poisonous gas”.

If a medical Doctor misconducts himself or violate the ethics of the profession, his or her license to operate is taken from him which renders the person jobless. Media practitioners particularly broadcast journalist with regards to those who works on radio and television should be put to scrutiny in the delivery of their services. It is undeniable fact that some Ghanaian media practitioner’s utterances foment and inspired their audiences to engage in war.

I am therefore making humble request to all stakeholders, cooperate bodies, parliament and government to empower the Ghana Media Commission enough to be able to issue and withdraw lenience to communication practitioners in Ghana.

I optimistically believe that if the journalism profession is monitored just as the medical or law profession, it will improve to the likeness of BBC and CNN standards and even better. I therefore leave the judgment in your hands with my question, “Who should be blamed?”. By.Zadok Kwame Gyesi

By: Zadok Kwame Gyesi, Diploma One student of Ghana Institute of Journalism.

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