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Opinions of Sunday, 23 August 2015

Columnist: Graphic.com.gh

Dealing with the hazards of media coverage

Journalists by the nature of their work are most times exposed to danger. It is not because journalists like to expose themselves to unnecessary danger but because the story always needs to be told and a journalist would have to go for it.

However, the invaluable service offered by journalists to society is often taken for granted, frowned upon or not regarded.

Many people who request the services of journalists treat them shabbily with the view that all that matters to them is food and drinks.

Journalists sometimes have to go great lengths just to get a story that would benefit or save society but it all ends up as a thankless job with the journalist accused of doing one thing or the other that he or she shouldn’t have done.

Presently, it is the media that is writing on the strike of the doctors, bringing out the issues for all parties concerned to dialogue to reach an amicable settlement to stop the death of innocent citizens who have been deprived of health care.

However, nobody is talking about the very poor conditions under which most journalists in the country are working. If we try to talk about them, we would be accused of unduly using the media to champion our own cause.

But for how long would journalists be abused in their line of duty? Yes, there may be a few bad lots in the journalism profession just as there are in other vocations but that does not mean that journalists must be ill-treated and not given their due at all times.

Last Thursday’s unfortunate motor accident that claimed the life of a Ghanaian Times reporter, Mr Samuel Nuamah, and left other members of the presidential press corps in critical condition in the hospital should be a wake-up call to all about the way journalists on assignments are treated.

Although accidents happen all the time, we believe what happened last Thursday could have been averted if the journalists were transported in a vehicle assigned from the Presidency, which was certified as being roadworthy.

Once again we see the provision made for the journalists who were covering the high office of the President as an afterthought, hence the hiring of a private vehicle for them.

While we count our loss, we urge the largest umbrella body of journalists in the country, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), to meet with the communication team at the Presidency to bring facilities used by the press corps to speed to meet accepted standards.

After all, they are also serving the country by informing the public about the activities being carried out at the Presidency thus respect should be accorded them.

By inference, we are asking all other private and state organisations in the country to treat media persons with courtesies.

Very soon it would be election year and many parties would be criss-crossing the country to touch base with their members and sympathisers and journalists would be following them to tell their stories to the electorate.

The Daily Graphic believes this is the time for the political parties to revise their notes on the treatment they give the media persons who give them the publicity that they so desire, especially when they have continually demanded fair coverage from state media such as the Daily Graphic.