31.08.2003 Feature Article

Who Is A Journalist ?

Who Is A Journalist ?
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A GNA Feature by Boakye-Dankwa Boadi Who is a Journalist? A Journalist is a person who has undergone formal training and has been certificated as such. The qualification might range from a Certificate through Licentiate, Diploma, Bachelor's Degree, Post-Graduate Diploma and Masters to Doctorate Degrees. A Journalist's work entails the gathering, writing, editing, and publishing or disseminating news, as through newspapers and magazines or by radio and television. Who may practice Journalism? Every human being may practice Journalism. The above definition of Journalism is the only one acceptable at the Ghana News Agency at present. If one does not have a certificate in Journalism one cannot dream of working in that prestigious organisation as a Journalist. Hitherto people without formal training were employed. However, the Agency accepts anybody, who knows how to construct a sentence in the English Language, the medium it uses, to write for it. Indeed most of the Agency's rural stories come from people without formal qualification. These are called Stringers - they are not Journalists. Now let us open the argument into the wider context. To qualify to be a member of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) one should have gone to a Medical School and be certificated as such. What do Medical Officers do? Essentially they heal people with diverse afflictions. Does it mean that anybody who heals is a Medical Officer? In fact statistics show that more than 70 per cent of Ghanaians would see someone other than a Medical Officer when they first fall sick. Are chemical sellers, who have been licensed to dispense over- the- counter drugs, Pharmacists? The point being made here is that every professional body worthy of being called as such must have a way of certifying its members. The door should not be left ajar for anybody to just walk in. This writer believes in the concept of a free spirit determining its own worldview and canvassing it to win others to share it. This concept allows for varied viewpoints. The application of this concept allows for two types of Truths - "Relative Truth" and "Absolute Truth". Some are of the view that "Truth" can only be absolute and nothing else. This school of thought steps down "Relative Truth" and calls it "Fact".
The "Truth" is what is. "Relative Truth" is what any person or group of persons, thinks the "Truth" is. This means that as more knowledge about "what is" becomes available the person or the group must of necessity change its viewpoint about "what is". With the exponential increase in knowledge "Relative Truth" has become transient, ephemeral and evanescent.
The selection of the Journalist of Year 2000/2001 was flawed from the beginning. The criterion of allowing the public to make an input was wrong.
The Ghana News Agency churns out an average of 70 stories from every corner of the country daily and yet none of these stories comes with the name of the writer.
Meanwhile the names of Radio and Television Presenters have become household names, even though, the backroom boy - the Producer- does the entire job. In fact the Radio or Television Presenter is in reality the puppet of the Producer. The Producer, who is not known, directs the Presenter. If you should ask the public to chose the Best Journalist it would only select those it has been hearing or seeing. One would, however, not attempt to find fault with the members of the Awards Committee because one believes in the adage that while pointing an accusing finger at another person three fingers would be pointing at the one.
For example one might ask what prevented anybody from pointing out the flaw when the criteria were first announced? The attitude should be progressive. Yesterday's mistake should not be repeated today. Let all trained Journalists henceforth take keen interest in the affairs of the Ghana Journalists Association. Let them attend all its meetings and since they are more than the untrained ones they could always out-vote them and shape the Association to their liking. After all democracy is about numbers. It must not be a question of breaking away. It must be that of hijacking it. Let them apply what the Americans used to call "Communist Inferior Tactics" (C.I.T.) during the Vietnam War to take over what is their own.
Jesus Christ in Matthew Chapter 15 verse 28 said: "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs." Never again should the pearl in the crown be cast before swine, as Jesus Christ admonishes.

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