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Opinions of Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Columnist: Blege, Alex

A Theme That Advises, Encourages And Charges

….“STROKE OF MY PEN” : A Theme That Advises, Encourages And Charges By Alex Blege

Every event has a theme. The theme of the event forms the basis of the organisation of the event.

The theme of the 19 th GJA Awards for this year is “Using Development Journalism To Discern and Defend National Interest”. In fact that is what development journalism is supposed to do- discern and defend national interest.
Development Journalism is that kind of journalism that moves away from the western form of journalism that states that bad news sells. Development journalism seeks to give voice to the voiceless, project the problems of the citizenry and ensure that solutions are found to the problems of the citizenry.
This kind of journalism is what is appropriate for a country like Ghana and any other developing country. It is also appropriate for countries where corruption and injustice are rife and there is lack of the very basic things that make life comfortable-water, good healthcare, sanitation, quality education, inadequate social amenities.
It is very important to have a media that is alert and can read between the lines in the matter of what the citizenry has to know. The journalist owes his or her first allegiance to the citizenry. The journalist owes a duty to the citizenry to tell them truth even if he has to pay the price of losing friends who ply the corridors of power.
One thing development journalism seeks to do is not to re-echo what the politician has said. The journalist is to deconstruct the policies of the government and make it clear and plain in the minds of the common citizens so that there is clear understanding in the minds of the citizenry what the government seeks to do.
In ‘Anthills of the Savanna’ by the late Chinua Achebe, there was a character, Ikem Osodi. This character created by the author was a journalist who was vocal and will go all length to ensure that the people are served well.
In this novel, a taxi driver once said about Ikem, ‘this be the man wey take im pen write teyy wey dem come commot all the rubbish for motorpark so say if your akara fall for ground sef you go fit take am put for mouth’. The journalist should be the champion of the ordinary people in the course of national interest.
Every Ghanaian journalist is working to ensure that Ghana becomes a better place for all of us to live. There may probably be some who are more interested in money than upholding professionalism. It is very tempting to become a journalist whose mouth and stomach is in the kitchen of some powerful dude.
In an attempt to discern and defend national interest, there is the tendency of being labeled as biased. This brings the discussion to whether neutrality is really objectivity and whether it is unethical or unprofessional to take the side of the oppressed in the society?
In my research I found out that the issue of neutrality and objectivity is debatable; however, it takes the journalist some professional sense of news judgment to determine what exactly it means to be objective and neutral towards a particular news story or in his or her article.
Most of the questions of the profession are answered in the course of the practice. If a news item will pitch one group of people against another group of people then the journalist is faced with just reporting what he believes will not bring trouble, after all journalists are not war mongers but agents of development through their watch dog roles.
On the other hand, should the journalist work on a story that exposes injustice against humanity, corruption, abuse of power, challenges of communities; it again takes that professional sense of judgment to make such stories known- it is a matter of human interest and what improvement that journalists seek to bring into his or her community and the nation as a whole.
In the course of discerning and defending national interest, journalists are supposed to analyse the facts on their merits and lay bare the truth; it is a journalist’s job. It is unprofessional to claim neutrality in the reportage of the truth, truth is truth there is no synonym for it. If there is any then, it is fact.
The theme for this year as I noted in my headline, advises, encourages and charges.
First the theme advises journalists to make use of development journalism to the fullest. Second, it encourages all those who are already in the path to continue and then finally it charges all and sundry to uphold development journalism which will ensure national interest.
With the head of all journalists above the parapet, let us use development journalism to promote national interest.

Writer’s email: kw.ameblege@hotmail.com/www.gudzetsekomla.blogspot.com