(A GNA FEATURE By CECIL ADOM)
Accra, April 11, GNA - Sometimes it is amazing how things do not change in Ghana irrespective of how loud change agents cry. At worse, what one gets when the pressure for change becomes unbearable is that people resort to cosmetics just to ensure that they keep to their old ways of doing thing.
On the surface, they package things just to fool the change agents but cut beyond the fa=E7ade and one comes to the realization that it is the same old story. To me this has been the story of the Sports Journalist Awards, which second edition had just been held.
Before one is tempted to ask what my problem is or call me a sour grape, as we resort to doing in the media these days, let me make it emphatically clear that I have and had never had a problem with the general concept behind the Sports Journalist Awards. This is because to me, it was long overdue and for a crop of young guys to take that initiative was indeed laudable. I was indeed one of the first people to congratulate them on this bold step of taking an introspective look at Sports Journalism.
But as they say, the devil is always in the fine print, reservations started cropping up almost immediately, when organisers announced their short-listed nominees for the respective awards for the first edition. This is because nobody was told the criteria for selecting the nominees and this cast some shadows on the whole ceremony.
Issues came to head at the awards nights last year when one of the award winners' name, did not appear on the short-listed nominees that the public voted for and yet managed to grab an award. That was quite strange but it happened in this profession of ours, where we are supposed to be the watchdogs of society.
Let me confess, that most of the criticism against the award ceremony came from GNA Sports, not because we did not grab any of the awards but because we thought the criteria for selection was flawed, as it is not good enough to leave everything on the subjective judgement of the judging committee.
Like the proverb that says that when you want to relay a message, talk to the wind, we were glad when the organizers, Media Trust heard our criticism and agreed to make amends in subsequent editions. Their defence was that, since the ceremony was still in its formative stages, such problems were bound to occur but they would be corrected in the future. As a matter of fact, Media Trust showed a lot of maturity when they held a Stake Holders' Meeting to collate views from people in the profession on how best to improve on the second ceremony.
I must confess that, the whole Sports Desk of GNA put their shoulders to the wheel and drummed home the need for a selection criterion that will give every prospective journalist interested in winning an award, an equal chance of winning. Thence there was a general consensus that everybody interested in the awards should submit copies of his/her work to the panel of judges for selection, as it is done in most journalism awards.
Indeed, all those who attended a follow-up meeting after the first Stakeholders' meeting organised by Media Trust were impressed with the criteria spelt out. Let me say here that though everything pointed to a much improved fair awards ceremony this year, some of us still harboured some doubts, knowing very well that change does not come that easily. Lo and behold sometime last month, the shortlist of nominees came out. It confirmed that lingering doubt that things do not change that easily. As I went through the list, I saw names like Richard Avornyotse and Daniel Kenu of GNA, Ebo Kwaito of Graphic Sports all accomplished journalists and I was initially happy that may be for once, something right has been done.
But my joy only lasted for minutes when after congratulating Richard Avornyetse on his nomination he appeared surprised. Asked why he was surprised, Mr Avornyotse said he did not send any script and hence was not expecting any short listing. Curiosity then got a better of me thence I decided to ask some of the people on the short list. For one let me tell you that all the three names mentioned above said they did not send any work to the panel of judges. I then asked myself how many more on the list did not send their work and by what criteria the short list was drawn.
I then asked myself, what the use of all the man hours we spent at the stake holders meeting trying to correct some of the ills of the first ceremony were. One will then ask what the real intentions of the organisers were: is it to make money, reward friends or to help develop sports journalism.
If indeed people were short listed when they did not submit any nomination, I wonder what criteria the panel of judges made up of respected journalists used in coming up with the nominees. I am left with no other choice than to sit back and suppurate for this dear profession of Sports Journalism, which has been thrown to the dogs with everybody doing its part to yank a piece of it for their own good.