26.05.2005 General News

The Ghanaian Media - a curse or a blessing?

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Tamale, May 26, GNA - Lord of our Ancestors, You have laid a solid foundation for the unity of this dear country, Ghana, and never should You allow any person or group of persons to destroy it.

This country has been one since independence; the only difference among the people has been their culture and the dialects that they speak. Indeed, there have been only two ethnic groups in the country, the "Pepefuo" from the North and "Kabonga" from the South, both co-existing happily in a country called Ghana.

"The tears of a Northerner has always been the tears of a Southerner" each one has been a neighbour's keeper despite colonial policies that had been perceived to have had negative impact on the North. But today, it is a different thing. There are divisions in houses, communities, relations and ethnic groups in the country with each of them pursuing agenda that are not national in character.

Some ethnic groups are now fighting for sovereignty and recognition while others vie for economic and political power, thereby destroying the unity that our ancestors had initiated and making their bones to shake in their graves. The unity that they initiated is now being threatened.

Should the Politicians and Journalists be blamed solely for this trend of affairs? No. The whole Ghanaian society should share the blame. However, some people are putting the blame on Journalists. Why? Because "it is said that it is never the problem of Journalists to hear or listen to what people in society say but it is always a Journalist's problem to write what the people say".

For those people, they think that it is the duty of the Journalist to sieve what the Politicians and other segments of society say taking into consideration the effects or impact a write-up would have on an ordinary person in the street.

Yes, this writer sincerely agrees that there are bad nuts among the Journalists in the system. However, like any other institution in the country, a healthy Media cannot exist in a sick society. The Media has self-interest in a healthy society even though the cause of society's sickness is not of the Media making.

Social problems by contrast, are dysfunctions of society rather than impacts of the Media and its activities. Indeed, such problems are the degeneration diseases or the toxic wastes of the society and community in which the Media exist.

The Citizens, Government, Environmentalists and Politicians are rather aiming their biggest guns at the Media for causing disunity and tension in the country. But is it really justified? Is it not the society, which is using the Media to destroy the country?

It is like the Ghanaian Media are operating under an emergency situation, which has not been anticipated and for which there are no rules. They need the hands of professionals. They need knowledge, experience and teaching from their supervisors. They need advice from clients to overcome these problems.

These days, some of the Ghanaian dailies are full of stories characterised by irresponsibility, crass and incompetence. There is no doubt that there are irresponsible, greedy and incompetent Journalists, who extort money from people and are ready to take money from others in order to "do their opponents in". But society would have to tolerate such people because they are also members of the Ghanaian society.

But the real problems of social responsibility are not irresponsibility, greed and incompetence. If they were, the problem would be easy to redress. One could then set forth standards of conduct and hold the Mdia to them.

Unfortunately, the basic problems of social responsibility are different. They are problems of good intentions, honourable conduct and high responsibility that have gone wrong.

Indeed, the Media exist to provide a specific service to society. They, therefore, have to be in the society, be in a community, be neighbours and have to do their work within a social setting. Therefore, the Media's social impact inevitably goes beyond the specific contribution they exist to make.

For instance, the Ghanaian dailies that carried horrifying headlines on politics sell more than stories that are developmental or environmental in nature. Some people even now sleep and dream about what they would say about "this person or that person" to a Media person for publication without due respect for that person's rights.

Some people are also using phone-in programmes as their mealtime in the morning to castigate, insult and incite persons against persons. This is not a healthy situation at all.

Negative politics has now taken a centre stage in the lives of Ghanaians even up to a point where if one could hold up the free air that nature has provided the people, one would have decided for them where to go and where not to belong.

Ghanaians need to emulate their ancestors. They were very careful that they did not "stab each other's eyes" in whatever they did. They cherished brotherhood and unity and this has brought this country this far. Unity is very essential for the development of the country and nothing should be done to destroy it.

The recent condemnation of the Media is somehow unjustifiable. This writer thinks that what is going on is society's problem and all the blame should not b heaped on the Media. For all one might know, the Media have helped in no small way in the country's development efforts. The Media have facilitated four general elections since 1992. It is also helping in the fight against corruption and educating the people on health, education, as well as agricultural, economic and environmental issues to enhance their living conditions.

The Media need more support from the Government and nongovernmental organisations to reconcile Ghanaians to see themselves as one people, one nation with a common destiny.

It is said: "Free people from restraint and they will come up with far better, far more advanced, far more productive answers than those experts." But in reality does this assertion work? The requirement for achievement in work and for a responsible worker is continuous learning. There is need for Journalists to have periodic orientation training to equip them with new skills. Continuous learning does not replace training. It has different aims and satisfies different needs.

Above all, it satisfies the need of the employee to contribute what he himself has learned to the improvement of his own performance, to the improvement of his fellow worker's performance, and to a better, more effective and more rational way of working. Let us all work to keep this country together in unity and in peace to enhance its rapid development.

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