The press in Ghana, doubtlessly, is free, vibrant and progressive. It was for this reason and this reason alone that our country was chosen as the venue for World Press Day which was celebrated on Wednesday.
Allow me to congratulate former administrations from both major political parties for formulating policies and putting in place structures that have made press freedom in Ghana the envy of the entire world. The presence of many media organizations in the country today is ample testimony to the sound decision of these administrations.
But before we get carried away, let’s remember the one group of Ghanaians who deserve tons of praise and admiration, the hard working and tireless members of the journalism profession. These men and women go out every day to gather information with the expressed goal of informing, educating and entertaining their clients....the Ghanaian public.
Their work, for most part, is tedious and underappreciated. They are the targets of ridicule and scorn and in some extreme cases, physical assault and even homicide. Nonetheless, the members of the inky fraternity or members of the fourth estate of the realm aren’t deterred. They go about their work with zeal and enthusiasm, determined to get to the bottom of the truth and bring the facts objectively and fairly to Ghanaians.
It is not out of place to maintain strongly that by the very nature of their profession they are a torn in the flesh of many, particularly government officials, who sometimes make the work of reporters difficult and unpleasant by consistently refusing to furnish an enquiring reporter the information that they need to write their story.
Ghanaian reporters work in a tough environment and that much is not in dispute. They work with poor equipment and poorly compensated, especially those at the bottom of the profession. No refresher courses are organized by their employers to give them added skills. To make matters worse, they have no means of transportation which frequently makes the covering of events a huge challenge.
There is no national institution without its fair share of critics. The Ghanaian press is no exception. Its members have been accused of being stomach journalists... a term I find very repulsive. While it is true that some Ghanaian reporters are compromised, it is disingenuous and absolutely wrong to paint every one of the members of the Ghanaian press with a broad brush.
There are decent reporters among the thousands of Ghanaian reporters, who value their professional ethics and would rather go hungry than succumb to the temptation of bribe and soli.
At the end of it all, Ghanaian reporters are essential to our young democracy. Without them, the public will be grossly misled by devious politicians and other mischievous public servants. We owe Ghanaian journalists a ton of gratitude.