October 17, 2021

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Is Journalism about sensationalism or analysis of it?

The basic concept behind journalistic practice and standards around the world within the media space has been to inform, entertain and educate the people. In some countries the media is regarded conventionally as the fourth estate of the realm after the three arms of government, the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary. This underpins a vital role of journalists in informing and educating among others.

The work of the media since independence has been through turbulent times before especially during times of revolution. Even democratically elected governments that had semblance of dictatorship placed some amount of restrictions on media practice. Some past governments of the country introduced laws to regulate media freedom for fear of being criticised. The obvious ones that come to mind are the Preventive Detention Act(PDA) enacted immediately after independence and the Criminal Libel Law passed into the 4th Republican constitution. Journalists who wrote or made utterances not pleasant to government of the day could go to jail under this law. Upon realising the counter-productive nature of this law and how it was restricting press freedom, the Kufour administration took steps to repeal it to enable press men and women practise their profession without fear or favour.

In spite of the enabling environment created and the recognition of the media as a crucial partner in nation building, it appears some journalists in Ghana have departed from the core principles of informing to educate.

To educate the masses, one needs to investigate, learn, and verify every information to have a fair knowledge and understanding of the issues at stake. If you do not arm yourself with knowledge and understanding of the matter being reported or interrogated, how can you educate the public with informed opinion? But it looks like some media personalities consume the information that come to their attention. They do little or no analysis of it to trigger further investigations and debate. So instead of doing analytical accosting of issues to arrive at balanced, informed and fair reportage, it has now turned to be a practice of sensationalism and emotionalism by some journalists. They believe that, whatever they sit behind their microphones and utter, are sacrosanct. The posture and demeanour of these emotional journalists tend to project them as epitome of knowledge of the subject matter. One worrying aspect is that, their failure to do thorough investigations and checks before drawing conclusions, tend to expose and betray their lack of knowledge as empty headed entities.

Many stories that broke out and were treated with emotions and sensation in sections of the media landscape rather than dealing with them with logical reasoning, abound in the country. The famous Amina Yutong bus alleged mass rape saga which presented concocted stories, the alleged shooting incident surrounding then minister of Defence, Hon. Benjamin Kumbour in his car, City Fm’s Caleb Kuda gaining access to National Security premises under false pretence, Joy fm Correspondent in Volta region staining his shirt with chicken blood and pretending to have been beaten by party thugs, Manasseh Azure going to South Africa for holidays and creating impression that he was being pursued by National Security and unknown persons issuing death threats to him to mention but few.

Aside these examples, recent story which has received so much sensation and emotions from sections of the media but turned out to be fake, is the Takoradi woman’s alleged pregnancy. The likes of Captain Smart who had not done any verification and cross-checking of the story, was seen raining insults and rants against leaders of the country especially the Western Regional Minister Hon. Okyere Darko Mensah. This is because, he(Captain Smart) thought his side of the story was sanctimonious. Any other dissenting views on it was unacceptable to him.

When it is now evident that the woman stage managed the pregnancy for whatever reason, these journalists seem to have gone into oblivion with shameless rapacity instead of apologising.

Such bigotry and attitude of arrogating everything to oneself, behaving and pontificating without basic facts, does not help journalism to grow and progress.

To avoid such all-knowing practice, journalists should analyse information painstakingly instead of consuming it. Information should also be crossed-checked before publication and conclusions so as to help unravel the facts and the truism to make the sanctity of journalism intact.

By Prince Adjei (Guy Gee)

The writer holds an MA. (Public Administration) as the Records Information Management Project Coordinator of a Private company in United States of America. He opens the line of communication between clients, customers, and businesses to get projects done.

With over 9 years in both public and private sectors, GUY GEE has experience in management consultation, team building, professional development, strategic implementation, and company collaboration.

He has managed projects in Records, Information and Management, where he was a finalist for the PMI®️ Project of the Year. He holds an MPA from Kean University, Union, New Jersey and a current PMP®️ certification.