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Opinions of Thursday, 11 September 2003

Columnist: Aidoo, Ato

Journalism Gone Astray

Recent events involving the Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA) presidential elections on one hand, and the Journalist of the Year award on the other, cannot foster a culture of public journalism which aims at strengthening our democratic institutions.

This year’s “ journalist of the year award” went to wrong person.

In one of its strongest condemnation presenting its philosophy on who is a journalist, the Ghana News Agency Chapter of the GJA received widespread praise in North America for it’s paper –“The Journalist’s Manifesto”.

It was a masterpiece.

Kudos.

The “Manifesto” attracted immense readership. What media analyst say is that, it further confirms GNA not only as one of the best news agencies in the world, but as an educator, teaching people who take the profession for granted.

Journalism is a great profession, it makes you human.

What others cannot see, you see them.

The GJA is under siege by people who think they have distinguished themselves in this noble profession. I doubt it. What they fail to cherish is that, we all err, and that bad decisions can be reverved to preserve unity.

I have nothing against Komla Dumor, I have no reason to, but when he was given the Best Journalist award, I said to myself: “what a heck is ………….?”.

What is Auntie Gifty, Bright & co. doing?

They are sending journalism down the stream.

Komla Dumor is not a journalist. He is just not a journalist, he works in the media industry.

He entered Kennedy School of Government in Boston and studied Public Administration.

The joke making rounds in journalistic circles in North America is that, he should have studied advanced journalism. They got it right.

It’s a shame, that Dumor was given the award in the midst of all the protests from people who are formally trained to practice journalism.

The association of formally-trained journalists is long overdue, so is the accreditation of members of GJA.

An elite group, a society, or any professional grouping that underrates journalists must be fooling itself. The profession has good thinkers who have an extra eye and ear, looking beyond facts, educating the people, and in the process helping the people refashion healthier communities for themselves.

Journalists shape opinion, sometimes they think for people, and make a sense out of “non-sense”.

You must be trained to become a journalist, well-trained.

I know journalists engage citizens in a search for solutions to problems that governments seemed unable to solve, for instance, the schools that failed to teach, the dominance of politics in our lives, the decline of public culture, and family confusion.

The list is long

For the uninitiated, it may be true, that the confidence in Ghana’s journalism has reached an all time low, declining in proportion to the rising anger and cynism of the people towards the profession.

But Ghanaian journalists can reverse the trend, be stronger in their resolve as seen through dynamic leadership being offered through the Graphic Coomunications, Ghanaians Times, TV3, and GNA chapters of the Ghana Journalists Association.They represent the future.

They want to tell the world, that standing apart, as seemingly neutral observers while the profession collapses is no longer an option, even if other journalists wish that it were.

For those who also love journalism more than any other vocation, the chief attraction is that it offers the chance for journalists to claim their central place in society, deservedly so, but you must be formally-trained.

Dumor, return the award, go back to school, learn to become a journalist, silence the critics , as the GJA continues to purge itself of “talkatives” who masquerade as journalists.

The author, an alumni of Rutgers University was a former associate at the features desk, Daily Graphic, Accra,Ghana. He now lives in Massachussetts

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.