Vulgarizing Journalism Beyond Toleration
In recent times, those of us in the inky fraternity have been at the receiving end….. Some of us have gone haywire and for the love of money, have thrown ethics of the profession to the dogs.
Some continue to let loose their mischievous selves and others simply spit fire everyday as if the world is about to come to an end.
The niceties of journalistic etiquette have gone missing as colleagues write everything and anything. Gradually, we are losing the battle and the honour as watchdogs.
I have deliberately decided to criticize journalists in Ghana even as a member of the family because I sincerely believe in self-criticism.
However, it must be stated in justification that in a situation where Ghanaian journalists are striving to wean themselves from more than two decades of stultifying, authoritarian dispensation under the PNDC and NDC regimes, journalists feel like paying society back in their own coin, hence, the advocacy journalism that we are experiencing. Indeed, there are times some of us take our pedantic gown to town, armed with nothing but mischief.
We parade power corridors and snip at those in authority unjustifiably. Some of these guys most probably make up their minds and are always prepared to launch their well rehearsed vicious attacks.
When I conceived the idea of writing this piece, I knew I will be easy fodder for some of our colleagues who will meet me with verbal assaults. I do not care much for such people, and in fact I will be sorely disappointed if they do not distort and declare war on rationality.
I am old enough to remember those good days when journalism in Ghana was so good that it could be compared to what was being practiced elsewhere in the civilized world.
Today, good journalism has gone sour. Lies, fabrications, sensationalism and libelous write-ups have taken centre stage. We are vulgarizing journalism beyond toleration.
Be that as it may, it should be drummed into the ears of the new generation of journalists in God’s own country that there is no gainsaying that the first condition of a writer’s popularity, in fact the principal means by which he invokes compliance in people to read him, is the style in which he presents his work.
The reading public is discerning enough to distinguish between the wheat and the chaff. The new guys on the job should be prepared to learn from the old guys.
They should avoid boisterous polemics and adopt sobriety of tone, mild reasoning, refinement of language and above all decent presentation of conflicting opinions.
Sadly, there is serious lack of professional touch in most of our journalists and newspapers. Sometimes, facts are freely mixed with comments. I do not want to name names, but the truth is that some journalists and newspapers in this country are disgracing the profession.
I must admit, however, that there are some newspapers too which are maintaining high professional standards. There seems to be a silver lining in the sky and if these newspapers continue to display finesse in journalism, the bad ones will fold up sooner than later.
You see, journalism as the ‘fourth estate of the realm’ has a very crucial role to play in the development of the nation. That is why there is the need for us to adopt self-criticism in order to bring the best out of the profession.
Imagine a situation where we wake up in the morning to hear that all newspaper houses have been closed down for one year! Set aside for the moment, the number of jobs that would be lost and rather focus on the information that would be kept in the cooler as well as the ‘darkness’ that will engulf the nation.
There is the need for change of attitude to avoid a situation where people will treat the profession with contempt. And the time to change is now.
The situation has been compounded by the intrusion of charlatans. You see, like pastoral work, journalism is a calling.
The fact that one is good in English Language doesn’t make him or her a good journalist. There are certain newspaper houses in this country that are staffed with politicians.
These people write with their eyes literally covered with political lenses. Unless we change our attitudes, in no time, society will spit us out like saliva.
When the NPP government repealed the Criminal Libel Law, some of us thought journalists would reciprocate by being circumspect.
But nay, the situation is the opposite. We have rather donned a confrontational gown and anytime we take the gown to town, hell breaks loose. That is too bad. I rest my case for now.