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kojo Yankah’s headache!

There is, by now, no doubt that Mr Kojo Yankah, President of the African University College of Communications (AUCC) and a former director of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), is suffering from a headache. In fact, the ex-editor of the country’s Daily Graphic could not have enacted anything to hide this man-made but terminal headache when he, at the grand dedication of the AUCC’s permanent city campus at Adabraka, named the Discovery House, expressed sentiments about falling standards in journalism as practiced in the country.

Paramount among these sentiments were the mushrooming of journalism training institutions across the country and the issue of political debates which are “so charged on our radio stations that you sometimes get the impression that we do not even appreciate our own collective achievements as a people”,

He also made genuine observations about the low quality of radio programming in the country due to the lack of trained journalists, a development which needs not to be overlooked, but exhausted towards reaching lasting antidotes.

In the first place, I write this article without any grudge to article 21 clause 1(a) of the 1992 constitution which grants “freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media”. I also do not harbor any opposition or contradiction to article 162 of the same constitution which guarantees, inter alia, freedom and independence of the media, regarded as the fourth estate of the realm.

Nonetheless the foregoing, I have, just as Kojo Yankah, very grave concerns to make in so far as the conduct of political debates and talk-shows, including newspaper reviews, on our radio stations are concerned. The cacophony and exchange of insults that have gradually become the trademarks by which such programs are identified leave much to be desired, and I am convinced it may assume unprecedented heights in the next few months to the December polls, if concrete measures are not mapped out National Media Commission and the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to regulate them.

Among the catalogue of decorum-defying conducts often put up these self-styled social commentators when the appear on air are the trade in insults, unnecessary interruptions of dissenting panelists, the utterly display of ignorance on topical issues, among many others, all of which emanate from their (commentators) dogmatic beliefs in their respective political party policies, arrogance and the unbridled reluctance to learn by failing to engage in research as a reliable tool to acquiring knowledge.

The most worrying angle to this development is that these social commentators often turn out to be professionally trained journalists and communications experts who know anything and everything about the profession, especially as regards to ethics, but deliberately let go off them.

It is therefore time for the GJA, NMC as well as owners and management of various frequency modulations (FMs) in the country to institute measures to regulate the conduct of political debates to render better meaning to our fledgling democracy which has, for the past years, been reduced and misinterpreted to the exchange of insults, regardless of the personalities and issues at stake.

I think by such measures, Kojo Yankah will be delivered of his menacing headache.

Again, it also remains an unfortunate spectacle to observe with disproof the unprecedented springing up of educational institutions, often housed in hired buildings, that profess to be journalism training schools, but which have not secured the accreditation of the National Accreditation Board (NAB) to operate. Consequently, such institutions are, by each year, churning out half-baked journalists, who, at the end of their course, are unable to practice journalism the professional way on the simple grounds of lacking basic knowledge on the rudiments of the profession.

As has been the requirement of the NAB for diploma programs to run on a period of two years training, such schools often take the delight in securing affiliations with mysterious institutions abroad that award diploma certificate after only six months or less.

As a phenomenon emanating from the foregoing has been the sordid development of what has now become known as solidarity fee, better known to journalists as ‘soli’. It is repugnant to observe reporters defy the ethics governing their profession to boisterously clamor for ‘soli’ which is not only humiliating to the profession and their consciences, but also despicable to watch flourish in the system without any authoritative rebuttal from the country’s media watchdog, the National Media Commission.

Other journalists also choose to scramble for food and drinks at events to the extent of stashing some (take away) for the kids at home. In face of these challenges confronting journalism in the country, let the GJA and NMC stand up and be counted.  But  in  mean time ,  kojo’s  headache  remains  untreated.

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June 20, 2008 - Posted by | Features

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