And oh yes, he has a point!
If others are always wrong, the media cannot also always be right!
The Minister of Trade, Mr. Joe Baidoo-Ansah, himself a trained journalist, has recently fallen foul of sections of the Ghanaian media and all sorts of people are baying for his blood.
We have studied the circumstances surrounding his spat with Metro TV and are quite satisfied that the minister is not the media-killing monster he is being portrayed to be. His own statement on the issue, to us, is satisfactory and explains his position.
We want to make it quite clear that nowhere in the UN Declaration on Human Rights and our own national constitution does it say that the media is infallible or that the media should not be challenged when it is patently going beyond its remit. Challenge can take several forms: rejoinders, disclaimers, legal action or direct face to face interaction. If these are not accompanied by violence, or threat to limb and property, they are legitimate and tangible methods of setting records straight.
If we Ghanaian media practitioners are honest with ourselves, we will confess to the number of times that some of us have complained about the excesses, mediocrity and arrogance we purvey as journalism and have even contemplated a peer review mechanism to check those excesses. We will not go into Dr. Nii Moi Thompson/Joe Baidoo-Ansah politics here. They are politicians and will cross out themselves on the appropriate political platforms; what we are interested in here is how our own narcissism and arrogance often dig the pitfalls which we eventually stumble in.
Isn't it so instructive? This spat coincided with the 2008 World Press Freedom Day last Friday. The Ghana Journalists Association organized a flag raising ceremony at the International Press Centre in Accra to observe the Day. It was an elaborate programme with speeches by the Minister of Information, Chairman of the Media Commission, President of the Ghana Journalists Association and others.
But it was almost a pathetic event because of poor participation. We are not talking here of empty seats, but the non-attendance by almost all the well known journalists, editors and so called social commentators who are constantly regaling us with their noises on radio, television and newspaper headlines! The editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr. Ransford Tetteh, Ms. Adjoa Yeboah-Afari , Editor of the Ghanaian Times (both state sector newspapers) and Alhaji Harruna Attah, editor of the Accra Daily Mail were the only senior editors present. This prompted Adjoa to make an impassioned plea to her colleagues to be more serious about the profession they claim to love so much!
It is a constant struggle between the media and politicians; whereas the media have the protection of the law (the constitution), the politicians do not enjoy such a privilege: This places on us much, much bigger responsibilities on how to handle this awesome tool which can create or destroy. The choice is that simple...