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13.06.2009 Feature Article

'Abrokyire' Palaver: Where are the journalists in Ghana?

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I have been observing with keen interest developments on the journalism front since the elections in December, and it appears that Ghanaian journalists—at least many of them—have gone on a long holiday.

Ever since the new government came into power every news item that makes the headlines is about politics. First, it was about cars. Then just as that issue appeared to die down, the issue about lands sold out to previous government office holders reared its ugly head; as if the issue of cars issue is some terminal cancer, it dies off and, by some divine journalistic intervention, it resurrects.

Enters BNI and Kwadwo Mpiani; the reading public has virtually been held hostage. They wake up to and go to bed with news of Mpiani's interrogation. You tune in to any radio station on the internet hoping to hear something uplifting and all you hear is Mpiani, Kufuor, Frank Agyekum, etc.

Finally Mpiani gets a break but only at the expense of “Alhaji sports minister” and his 'chinchinga' allegations. That I know will continue to enjoy maximum air time, the only breather being news about former President Kufuor packing out of his post-presidency office.

So what is happening to my Junior High School students at Akyem Ntronang? Do they now have the books they need to pass their exams well enough to go to Senior High School in their numbers and not end up taking up 'wife-hood' and 'husband-hood' as their higher education programs.

I can imagine what is happening to the school children in the Afram Plains who had to canoe across large water bodies to get to school or walk Olympic distances as though competing for the global sporting event, just in search of the opportunity to learn how to read and write.

As for my people in Kete-Krachi I cannot even begin to imagine how I can visit there any time soon when in my hydrophobic state I cannot fathom how to ferry across the Volta Lake to visit my family because of the horrible state of the roads.

It is surprising that in this 21st century we still have school children sitting on brick blocks in school. What about the communities in Accra who cannot boast of having constant water supply or even potable water in the capital? As for the rural areas the least said about them the better. We must be ashamed of ourselves for ignoring the problems of these communities.

The issue of our hospital facilities and the dehumanizing conditions people in which people live, never comes up until one dramatic case is recorded and suddenly every one is reminded that we have a sinking health system.

There are so many problems that affect us. Sadly, journalists are more interested in talking about what one politician did or did not do. Suddenly most journalists' have become consultants, a title they gleefully display on their business cards. We have become experts overnight and are quick to impose criminal sentences on past government officials and advisors on how current officials should be treated.

Do not get me wrong, politics is important. We need to hold the people whom we elect into office accountable, but are we being fair to our profession and to the people who should be the primary beneficiary of our work, when all we talk about is politics, politics and more of politics every single day?

What are we doing about our elderly women who are consigned to witch camps without any regard for menopausal 'antics', dementia, Alzheimer's or other gerontological conditions which make our elders sometimes act in questionable ways?

At best we sit in Accra and hold long sermons about politicians who made this and that promise. How many journalists take it upon themselves to visit communities facing particular needs to ascertain the situation and follow up until there is some positive action taken?

We should not be satisfied with rattling English hrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr and having our names all over the country because we are eloquent or have good voices. It is time we 'decentralized' journalism practice from Accra and Kumasi and began to serve all Ghanaians irrespective of which part of the country they live.

It is a good thing the GJA awards event is coming up. It will be interesting to know how the GJA understands its own profession. Will all the awards go to the city journalists safe for one or two categories that will go to those who do some good rural news reporting? I will be watching this closely.

Write to the author:
Dot Asare-Kumah
[email protected]

Dorothy Asare-Kumah
Dorothy Asare-Kumah, © 2009

The author has 21 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: DorothyAsareKumah

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