Monday, 20 October 2014

The Beating of Journalists in Recent Times

"Journalism is public service"- Mahatma Gandhi. That was why in the 18th century it was accorded the position of the 'Fourth Estate' in the democratic dispensation. However, in recent times, some journalists and media houses instead of doing service to the nation, have  allowed themselves to be turned into PR and propaganda engines for some prominent individuals and political parties in the country. Statistics show that over hundred journalists were beaten from 2008 till date and I think some of these journalists deserved to be beaten if you ask me. Even some journalists were beaten just last weekend.

In as much as I don't condone violence, I also believe in the rights of the public; that is the responsibility of the journalist towards the public. Some Gh journalists don't respect the rights of the very public they claim to serve. Some of these journalists are obsessed with 'freedom of the press'; so they go about exercising this right as they like; all in the name of 'searching for truth', forgetting that their rights end where the public's own starts. Besides, when it comes to the elements of news, all that some of these journalists care about is the 'who'. In the case of the Daily Graphic reporter, he deserved to be beaten because the code of ethics of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) states that "In case of personal grief or distress, the journalist should exercise tact and diplomacy in seeking information and publishing." But this particular journalist didn't apply any of these in asking the question which led to his beating; so far as a celeb was in the equation, he'll ask his question not taking into account the feeling of the person(s) and his family. When the case was taken to the law court, the Daily Graphic reporter redrew the case; saying it was in the interest of his family.

Moreover, some of these journalists who were beaten, had thrown the code of ethics of the profession to the dogs. I mean the code of ethics of the GJA, of which one states that "The journalist shall obtain information, photographs and illustration only by straight forward means." and many more. These journalists have resorted to the practice of Ambush and Yellow Journalism. All because they  don't want the truth to be concealed.

Furthermore, some of the journalists who were beaten were not audience sensitive. They think we their audience don't have much choices or no choice at all but to listen or read whatever they bring. Even the GJA code of ethics states that " In the collection and disseminating information, the journalist should bear in mind his/her responsibility to the public at large and the various interests in the society". Lately I have been appalled by these sex scandals that has been going on in our media. I ask myself  "Is it what the public want to hear or its just a revenge on someone". If the journalists who were beaten had taken pains to put themselves in the shoes of the public they report to, certain questions wouldn't have been posed, certain reports wouldn't have come to the public domain and no journalist or media personnel wouldn't have been beaten.

As listeners and readers, I suggest we start blacklisting these journalists and their media houses by not viewing or listening to their television or radio stations and also not reading their papers including their mobile and online ones. I believe if we their audience start taking such measures it will force the media houses and journalists to conform to the accepted standards.This is the power we have as audience to ensure that the right practices are adhered to. I  also suggest that Gh journalists who are not members of GJA and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) make it a point to join, to learn the proper standards of the profession, for their own protection and also to ensure that no Journalist is beaten in future.