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GAF Vrs GJA: Who Is Mightier?

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GAF Vrs GJA: Who Is Mightier?

Ha ha ha ha! The fight is almost over between the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and Ghana Journalists Association (GJA). This article just wants to briefly comment on their performance and to offer suggestions for a better march next time.

Let’s first appreciate the backgrounds of these two bodies. GAF, we are told, comprises the Army, Navy and Air Force and is being supervised by the Ministry of Defence. It defends/protects citizens and country against internal and external threats/invasions using laid down rules and regulations.

Records show that Ghana’s modern military was properly structured and conceived after independence with one Major General Stephen Otu as the first Chief of Defence Staff in September 1961. Though some say our military is one of the best in Africa, others also think there is a long way to go.

The GJA, an umbrella body of journalists in Ghana, was established on 15th August, 1949 to promote professionalism and high journalistic standards, strengthen the contribution of the association and its members to democracy and good governance, protect the rights of members, respect and defend the freedom of expression, pluralism of the media and universal access to information.

The inky association is also a proud member of the African Journalists Association, Federation of African Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists having its own executives, such as president, vice president, treasurer, organizing secretary and public affairs officer.

The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Ghana Private Broadcasters Association, Women in Broadcasting, Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana and Editors Forum Ghana are supposedly part of the GJA with the regulatory body being the National Media Commission.

GJA should have been within the rank of GNAT, NAGRAT, TEWU, UTAG, GMA and the rest. But because it does not belong to the Trades Union Congress, it appears legally incapacitated to negotiate with government or organizations over better working conditions for members.

It is clear that this country cannot do without workers and worker groups, such as the GAF and GJA. Partnership other than rivalry is what is required to move things better. The alleged military assault on two journalists from The Ghanaian Times and Daily Graphic at the 56th Independence Anniversary parade in Accra was sad and condemnable.

They really did not deserve those reported slaps just because they were trying to carry out their professionally mandated tasks. The alleged assault footage in the media did cast a slur on us as a nation.

GAF’s recent position on the matter was unacceptable. Their report which exonerated soldiers involved in the act was just biased and wicked. But its subsequent retraction and apologies should let a sleeping dog lie. The GAF and GJA must reconcile and get back to members for strict professional remedial works.

This piece backs Madam Adjoa Yeboah-Afari, chairperson of Editors Forum of Ghana, when she says: “We believe that they (referring to the victims) deserve to be compensated for the pain, trauma, humiliation and embarrassment they have, no doubt, suffered.”

It is, however, regrettable to hear her accentuate, “Our work is dangerous but we shall continue to do what is expected of us.” If truly information is like the palm oil with which we eat our lives, then the welfare of information dispensers, including journalists must be protected.

Dr. Affail Monney, the new GJA President, also observes: “Our democracy is on a slippery ground and if media practitioners do not stand up and correct the ethical gaffes and kinks we shall regret,” adding, “No Amount of intimidation or beating at public functions will make us scared dogs.”

All journalist and writer unions must join hands with government and relevant bodies to refresh and to sharpen the professional skills of members. Mechanisms should be instituted to smoke out charlatans and possibly punish them.

Journalism can be more attractive if the current system of abuse is rectified. The on-going “soli” payment system should be refined with a more dignified allowance system. This can best be advocated for by journalists themselves.

Program organizers must appropriately tender invitations to journalists and media houses with detailed program outlines. Public relations officers must organize orientations or briefings for reporters prior to the start of functions for some insights into proceedings and for them to devise fitting reporting methodologies.

Tags could be given as accreditation. Reporters must also produce exactly what happens. Sensationalism and adulteration of news items should be avoided. The call for speedy passage of the Right to Information and Broadcasting bills is good. Actually, Ghana is in dire need of responsible journalism in order to grow. Let’s all help!

Source: The Chronicle



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