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Opinions of Monday, 14 October 2019

Columnist: Wisdom Eli Kojo Hammond

70 years of GJA presence, the contribution of journalism and the way forward

70 years of GJA Presence, the contribution of journalism and the way forward cannot be overlooked. 70 years of the GJA presence in Ghana is worth celebrating and should be time to strategically plan for Ghana's Media Landscape.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 said "The pen is mightier than the sword" his simple but deep meaning-centered metonymic adage as an English author is real, forward-looking and the bare facts today and into the future as far as the role and power of the 21st journalist is concerned.

This is what the GJA and the Ghana Institute of Journalism have become important linchpin in the history of Ghana, in communicating, informing, and making bare facts and realities home and abroad known using the pen.

The function news plays in the lives of people is immense. News is an important source of information on happenings, events, sports, business home and abroad and it empowers the receivers with the needed piece of information that empowers them. Its role is not measurable and so efforts to keep the relevant and meaningful news always on the table means the journalist is at the center as the agent.

Importance of Journalists over the past 70 years of GJA presence
Journalists use the news and information at their disposal to serve as independent monitors of power.

The public will be a drop in the ocean without journalist hence through the news shared by media houses and journalist, the society becomes a public forum for criticism and comments on happenings shared with them. Vivid examples have to do with the CSE saga and the 1D1F initiative and the coverage of the 2016 General elections in Ghana.

Today, the pen is a symbol of power in the hands of the journalist. It has also metamorphosed as well into any tool or instrument or medium in the 21st century that a journalist can use to reach his audience. It helps keep the government and policymakers on their toes to do the right thing the first time and keep repeating it ever after.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton by his adage meant that communication be it written, audio, visuals, and movies just a few to mention by journalists and pressmen is a more effective tool than the use of violence.

Through the pen, the voice of the voiceless is heard, opinions of society are made known to government and policymakers and the journalist bridges the gap between these two as an informant, carrier of messages for informing, educating and entertaining the general public.

Today, simple to complex stories in the dailies, online news portals and in the form of videos, tape, and pictures continue to vindicate, shame and share bare facts with Ghanaians.

Press Freedom and GJA's 70 years Celebration

This has been achieved due to the level of press freedom in Ghana. As the GJA marks 70 years of its existence, the honour lies with all journalist and conveyers of news in the diversity of today's media thus print, online news portals, TV and radio stations and newspapers to continue to receive the needed government support and enjoy the all-important press freedom to its fullest needed to give journalist the space to professionally deliver without fear of attacks, intimidation, death threats and the like by the powers that be.

Ghana's democracy, the need to keep the public informed, the important role of the journalist and media houses to be respected and honoured as they continue to deliver this all-important service as the eye of the citizenry.

This also calls for mutual respect between the stakeholders such as the public, and government without frustrating the work of journalist which will help enhance the work they do.

It also calls for a professional approach to quality professional journalism and efforts by the government to ensure, it does not act in ways that suggest, it is preventing some media houses from doing their work.

This calls for the government and the National Media Commission of Ghana to quickly resolve issues regarding the closing down of some radio stations including Radio Gold and Radio XYZ which are seen as pro-NDC.

It is also a call on journalists to be objective, and do fact-based reports devoid of personal sentiments as often as possible.

While there is the need to encourage and make sure the right thing is done by media houses in obeying laws that govern their operations, we as a nation must also weight the implications of such actions and the benefits of these stations to the political landscape of reportage.

70 years of the GJA presence in Ghana and the Challenge for Journalists

70 years of the GJA presence in Ghana and the Ghana Institute of Journalism should further challenge today's budding young journalist and writers to push themselves and venture into the areas of specialization in Business related publications, reporting on Climate Change, Human Rights, Artificial Intelligences, Information technology, Applied Science and Agriculture and the like if they want to become authorities in such fields. Some of these are currently receiving little to no reportage in Ghana such as Climate Change, Human Rights, and Artificial Intelligences.

This will give Ghanaians journalists a competitive edge and position them at the top to rock shoulders with the best across the globe making them global icons such as Ghana's Late Komla Dumor.

This way, we can push journalism and media reporting a step further that will not only improve the services of media houses and journalists across the country but also shape the focus of journalism and add to the everyday stories of politics and education in Ghana. The interest of journalists in the fields of Business-related publications, reporting on Climate Change, Human Rights, Artificial Intelligences, will also create new and interesting categories of news that will be of interest to the Ghanaian public

Conclusion

70 years of the GJA presence is just the beginning of the journey, students of journalism, professional journalist, government and Ghana Institute of Journalism, National Media Commission and all other stakeholders must evolve a 20 year strategic plan for the journalism profession and get a road map in place to make Ghanaians journalist locally relevant internationally thus Locally Relevant Globally. 70 years of the GJA presence in Ghana, let us celebrate and take strategic decisions to make journalism relevant 70 years from today.