Issues about charlatans parading themselves as journalists at events on Friday dominated the Annual General Meeting of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) held in Accra.
Most of the reports by the Regional Chairmen of the Association expressed worry about impostors who posed as journalists and brought the name of the profession into disrepute.
Members who suggested ways to weed out charlatans from the profession considered the options of contacting the accreditation boards to ensure that schools of journalism were properly accredited.
Some said the problems also had to do with the lack of a proper definition for who a journalist was while others urged the executives to register the association as a professional body to ensure some sanity in the practice.
Ms. Adjoa Yeboah-Afari, Immediate Past President of the Association, suggested the setting up of a task force to deal with the issue of charlatans in the media. She said: “The issues about charlatans in the media are more complex than we think because it has to deal with various categories of charlatans.”
Ms. Yeboah-Afari, who is also the Editor of Ghanaian Times, explained that the need for a task force to deal with the issues was necessary because there could be no concrete decisions to deal with the issue at the meeting because of its complexity.
She said, there were those who had been employed by media houses and behaved badly at assignments, those who were not employed by media houses but went out to programmes to look for money and thus posed as journalists and yet another group who were employed by media houses and were not being paid and so had to depend on money given out at assignments for their livelihood. All the members agreed that the charlatans in the media were causing damage to the reputation of the association and the profession as a whole.
They urged practicing journalists to point out those who were not journalists and presented themselves as such out at assignments to be arrested.
Mr Ransford Tetteh, President of the GJA, said the charlatans were a big challenge to the association and the executives had been trying to deal with the issue since they assumed office.
He said, it was important that every member of the association saw the issue as a serious one and helped to deal with it.
Mr. Tetteh advised journalists to be circumspect in their reportage, especially during this election year.
“We as journalists should set the agenda to raise issues and let the politicians address them rather than personalizing the political campaigns.”
The GJA president said the Association intended to continue with the next phase of the press centre project.
Mr. Bright Blewu, General Secretary of the GJA, said in his report that the Association had re-organized the Ethics and Disciplinary Council and had put in place a Professional Development Committee which would liaise with media training institutions and employers in the development training programmes for members.
He expressed the Association's intention to strengthen the collaboration with the Electoral Commission in making the Press Centre a media resource and results relay centre.
Mr. Blewu said there would be workshops organized at the regional level for journalists on political reporting and election coverage, adding that, the Association's guidelines on election coverage would be revised this year.
He said the GJA had made significant contributions to shaping the media landscape in Ghana through its programmes which had been used to defend press freedom and promote excellence in journalism.
“However, it is fair to concede that even as it grows in stature, it still has quite a lot to do to inspire greater public confidence in the ability of the media to protect democracy, national peace and stability.”
Other issues discussed included the payment of dues and the welfare of members.
The Western Region branch of the association was given an award for being the most proactive regional branch of the GJA.
Mr Godwin Avornorgbor of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation was also given an award for his contributions to the Association as well as some corporate organizations, including Africaonline that have helped the Association in various ways.