FULL STATEMENT: GJA PRESIDENT AT OPENING CEREMONY OF MEDIA CAPACITY ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM
REMARKS BY GJA PRESIDENT AFFAIL MONNEY AT OPENING OF MEDIA CAPACITY ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM AT MANHYIA PALACE ON JANUARY 10, 2022 Your Royal Majesty , Otumfuo Osei Tutu 11, the Asantehene, Hon Minister of Information, Chairman of the National Media Commission, Rector of GIJ, Presidents of PRINPAG and GIBA,National Public Affairs Director of GJA, Mary Tawiah Mensah, GJA Regional Chairpersons , Director of News, Ghana News Agency, Mrs Beatrice Asamani -Savage, resource persons, participants, distinguished ladies and gentlemen. At long last, what was perceived as a distant dream or dismissed as an inflated rhetoric is unfolding into historic reality. Accordingly, GJA is profoundly grateful to the government of Ghana, as an indispensable stakeholder in the media, for its staggering sponsorship package. The Planning Committee led by GIJ Rector, Professor Kwansah- Aidoo, and the resource persons also deserve the highest commendation for lending their maximum support for the Media Capacity Enhancement Programme. While at the pinnacle of gold, and in the precinct of the Golden Stool, permit me, Your Royal Majesty, to sprinkle a gold dust of appreciation on our sector Minister, Hon Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, for his singular vision and tenacious commitment to professional excellence , culminating in the series of training programmes and marriage between industry and academia. The twin Initiative, without doubt, is unprecedented in scope , and unparalleled in depths since 1822 when journalism began in the then Gold Coast , now Ghana. A dazzling journalist as he was, and a budding politician as he is, Hon Nkrumah’s place in the history of journalism in Ghana is definitely assured. If today, touch wood, the President decides to reshuffle him, he will leave with his chest out and his head high because he has something of monumental value to show the present and future generations of journalists. We recall with utmost pride that in 2015, the Otumfuor journeyed by road from Kumasi to Accra to address the GJA awards . The observations he made and recommendations he gave are still a reference point for the media. Today, we are profusely grateful to the veritable friend of the GJA and unwavering supporter of the media , for his gracious act of condescension which has made it possible , once again, to drink from the fountain of his Solomonic wisdom . It is trite knowledge that the Enhancement Programme is happeningn at a time when confidence in the media is on the in wane , and perpetration of mediocrity, on the rise. In terms of professional standards, many journalists are stuffed to the gills, others are rotten to the core. While some display innovative spark and distinctive qualities, many operate in stagnant pools which reflect hackneyed styles and immanent output. The finest opportunity, therefore , beckons to move the paradigm and change the narrative of journalism practice in Ghana. More specifically, the training series is expected to sharpen the reportorial flair, editorial craftsmanship, analytical power, and creative thinking of the participants so that they will not only operate to make a living , they will also be living to make a difference. Research shows that the average engineer loses twenty percent of his or her knowledge every year, if it not updated. Journalists are not immune from this reality. The logical response , therefore, is to train and retrain all journalists as resources would allow. This should be complemented by heuristic means to achieve an overall quality in media output. Ann Landers teaches us that the naked truth , is better than a well dressed lie. And the naked truth is that most media houses and individual journalists are too financially disabled to meet their critical training or self- development needs. Like the signature SHS programme, we hope the free Media Capacity Enhancement Programme has come to stay to help fix the capacity deficit and hone the professional skills of beneficiaries. This will eventually chrystalize into a system which will be a crucible for media credibility, media responsibility and media accountability. Before the programme is extensively rolled out, we hasten to urge that the practice of journalism in its rawrest form must stop. This relates to unprintable insults, indecent dictions, inelegant comments and unnecessary noise which make some practitioners and their outlets trend for wrong reasons. The experts tell us anything without humour is almost inhuman. And good humour is a mark of high intelligence. Indeed, we love programmes spiced with humour and enjoy discussions leavened with proverbs. However, this point can hardly be articulated- excessive injection of jocularity and proverbization in news in particular, and other serious programming , is problematic. Such breezy ethical breaches add tinder to the anger of media critics, and make forgiveness for our professional sins hellishly difficult. Furthermore, the GJA wants the media to promote civility in public discourse and champion healthy debates of national issues , bearing in mind that debates are the lifeblood of liberal democracy such as ours. In the process, the media should tone down their partisan slant and blatant spin and tone up their independent streak and objective bent. This approach will help meet an ethical imperative of feeding the public with free, fair, balanced and comprehensive information with which they will make reasoned decisions. It goes without saying the Media Capacity Enhancement Programme , presents an iconic turning point in journalism practice in Ghana. In a wider context, the GJA proposes that this programme be executed in tandem with pragmatic steps to improve the working conditions of journalists. Dwindling revenue steam and swingering expenditure cuts , induced by Covid , have conspired to make an already bad situation worse , for majority of the media houses and their workers. While public sector workers fight for premium salaries, the minimum wage is a luxury for a countless number of journalists who have even not be paid for months.. The International Federation of Journalists ( IFJ) reminds us poignantly that “there can be no press freedom if journalists live in conditions of poverty , fear and corruption.” The causal nexus between flip- flop poverty and below par performance in certain media circles underlines the need to address the salary issue of journalists with urgent promptitude. Your Royal Majesty, Hon Information Minister, senior media practitioners, learned resource persons, esteemed participants, distinguished ladies and gentlemen. Indeed, our media houses are varied. Our orientation is different. And our backgrounds are diverse. However , our journey from far and near, and our willingness to sit in and learn, presupposes our commitment to be bound by a single strand woven around the desire to use journalism to promote the economic upswing, social uplift , democratic upsurge and developmental upgrade of our dear nation Ghana. This is a charge to keep. The Sovereign Lord is our helper. Thank you for your attention. Afehyia pa .