You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2011 06 02Article 209244

Opinions of Thursday, 2 June 2011

Columnist: Quaye, Stephen A.

This Nonsense Against Journalists Must Stop Immediately.


From: Stephen A.Quaye, Toronto-Canada.

Gradually, events unfolding are beginning to give Ghanaians a fair idea as to which government or political party in the country is more media friendly than the other.
Both two political giants in Ghana the New Patriotic Party, [NPP] and the National Democratic Congress, [NDC] have all laid claims to the fact that they are media friendly. But it is the NDC which until recently were admiring itself of being more media friendlier than its opponents the NPP.
However, the latest events involving some ministers and the district chief executives of the incumbent NDC government and the press gives the ordinary people fair idea to judge as to which government or political party in the country is more media friendly than the other.
Journalists charged with the duty to scout for news and inform us of daily events as they happens for us also to know how to move our steps are being assaulted for doing their professional work and the seat of government showing no concern?
Suppose it has happened once though is avoidable else where in the country, we could have let it go.
But watching as journalists are being attacked everyday for the simple fact that they have been reporting events factual as they appear to the dissatisfaction of a belly dancer somewhere in government office must be condemned in no uncertain terms now and again.
It happened in Koforidua where a whole regional minister Dr. Kwesi Akyem Appiah-Kubi who is referred to as “honourable” and will go haywire if you do not add his professional title “Doctor” to his full name, verbally attacked journalists for exposing what happened at a meeting he chaired at the residency and was allowed to go scot free till date.
If not for the professional journalists he attacked who sit throughout the night to sieve the all the words that spews out from his mouth when talking to his people, will his master at the castle know what he has been doing at all?
Then why should he go mad and verbally assault the same cream of journalists who have been making his work simple for his master to be scoring him more points if they reported a factual event which unfolded right at his nose?
Readers and commentators described the regional minister’s act as nasty but that of the district chief executive for Amansie West in the Ashanti Region Oti Prempeh, has been described as “S” with him as a person being described as a “pain in the ass” of the residents in the district who are lovers of true democracy and peace in development.
Else where in the world, he would have been arrested by the police, charged and put before court and if found guilty would be sacked as government official and made to serve his jail sentence to serve as deterrent to others for assaulting a fellow human being.
A chief together with his subjects realizes that they are lacking in developmental facilities and invited the press to report their predicaments for assistance and that shook the shit out of a tyrant DCE to assault a noble journalist who did a good work by letting the world know of the people’s problems for solution?
What really annoyed some of the journalists who read the story was the nonsensical aspect of it all where the DCE was claiming he was not contacted before the story was aired and that the story was not balanced as it was plotted to render him incompetent in the eyes of his master, the people in the district as well as in the town.
Does he know even one cent of the work of the journalist for him to tell the pressman what he or she should have done? Even after the story, the journalist should not have gone closer to him in anyway at all because that story was done and the public have finished making their judgment after he played hide and seek game with her to comment about it before airing it.
Journalists should know that those hide and seek games are adopted tricks by government officials to either delay a story or prevent the journalist from presenting a factual story which may expose they the officials therefore once the story is factual there is no need to go chasing officials to talk about it.
In their book, “WARP SPEED”, Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, talked about how forces like these tyrant minister and DCE, were converging to weaken journalists’ pursuit of truthfulness by physically assaulting journalists, despite the continuing allegiance most journalists profess to it.
But despite these trends, journalists like my friends in Koforidua and that in Kumasi, still believe in the importance of telling the truth like what happened under the nose of the regional minister and the DCE which have all been resulted in the journalists being assaulted for telling the truth.
Over a couple of years I have had my own difficulty understanding the restriction placed on journalists as they do their work of gathering news and presenting it to the people in the community to make their own judgment and it is the issue of “FAIRNESS AND BALANCING”.
In another book,” THE ELEMENTS OF JOURNALISM” written by the same great authors of journalism, Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, observed that over the years, some journalists have suggested substitutes for truthfulness.
“Probably the two most common substitutes are fairness and balance. Yet both, under scrutiny, are inadequate. Fairness is too abstract and in the end is more subjective than truth. Fair to whom? How do you test fairness? Truthfulness, for all its difficulties, at least can be tested” they noted.
Now to the point where I have my biggest difficulty about understanding the restriction placed on journalists. Balancing their reportage even if there is evidence to back the story to make it more factual, they have to talk to someone who tells lies to kill the substance of the story. But just listen to what these great authors say about balance.
They posited,” Balance also is subjective. Balancing a story by being fair to both sides may not be fair to the truth if both sides do not, in fact, have equal weight. Is global warming fact or fiction? The preponderance of scientists have argued for years that it exists, but press coverage has continued long past the time of the scientific debate to give equal weight to both sides.
“And in those many cases where there are more than two sides to a story, how does one determine which side of the story to honour? Balance, if it amounts to false balance, becomes distortion” therefore if the journalist has every evidence to back the claim like the chief that they lack development in the town and evidence were clear for the journalist to take does she have to go and talk to the DCE who will definitely tell lies to rubbish the truth of the chief and people calling for assistance?
This is not the first time a chief and his people have talked to the press about problems facing them and calling on government to come to Macedonia. Even in the days of yore chiefs and their subjects were using the media to either exhibit what they have to the world as they open their towns and villages for investment.
A case in point was the meet the press programme former Eastern Regional executives of the Ghana Journalist Association [GJA] which my magic mentor, Mr.A.C.Ohene was a leader held in the New Abirem District where the people exposed their tourist potentials as well as natural mineral resources to the world calling for investment.
Today, Newmont mining company is doing prospecting in the area waiting for its license to be issued by the government for it to go into full scale mining which will create jobs for the people.
Meanwhile, the company has built and rehabilitated a number of school blocks in the district, commissioned clinics and police stations, supported the district assembly to also initiate other development projects which are all to the benefits of the entire district.
It is time people start using the media in trumpeting their case base on facts without fear or favour since by so doing we could eliminate lies, corruption and incompetent officials from our midst.
The Ghana Journalist Association, [GJA] is in fact doing its best to control members in practicing their profession in good environment. But the umbrella inky fraternity needs to be more up and doing by educating the general public about how to lodge complain of bias reportage or a damaging story for redress instead of physically assaulting the pressmen.
Media houses should be allowed to sue tyrant sources who physically assault their reporters without using proper channels to fight their case of alleged bias or libel all because the assaults on journalists are becoming too much and I will not be surprised the next time that an official has used a stick on a journalist because he exposed him.
Over to you Joe Lartey.