For the past month, I have been acting as ICT/Telecommunications judge on the 14th Ghana Journalist Association(GJA) Media Awards. They are scheduled to be launched on Saturday 15th August. [ http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/entertainment/artikel.php?ID=163101]
Next week is exactly five years since I arrived back home from Belgium to the job I am in. In my personal opinion, I believe the media has gotten worse over this period. There are quite a number of professionals that are doing well as journalists; sadly the charlattans outweigh the professionals!
The practice of journalism is in a very sorry state--despite the astronomical rise of the private press (yes, you could say that our press is free! (even too liberal at times!!) ), what with papers aligning themselves to political parties. Though that is nothing new, it went o the increase, especially in the second term of the NPP.
Papers like "The Statesman"; "The Ghanaian Observer"; and "The Daily Guide" are three mainstream papers that toe the NPP line. They toed it in the last few months of the NPP, and continue to do so, with often-times bombastic headlines that should alert our National Media Commission, which is itself as toothless as a dodo...
It is now possible for anyone to create two columns on a sheet of paper, and label those papers that are pro- and anti-goverment. The situation with journalism has become that dire and polarised. Party-affiliation is no secret as in the UK, where the Telegraph and Daily Mail are usually in support of the Conservatives, but at least the British press is capable of scoops like that of the parliamentary expenses which exposed BOTH the incumbent Labour and Tories.
In Ghana, any kind of scoop like that would have exposed only ONE party!
The biggest change, in my view, has been the rise of private papers, but many of them have only deepend the polarisation that already exists.
I do believe that a free press is important for Ghana, but free press without regulation (I understand that the National Media Commission is being re-constituted to have teeth as it was woefully under-staffed, and has experienced conflicts with the National Communications Authority that claims to be only technical-savvy) is no free press, but a cauldron of over-zealous (pseudo-)journalists who have hijacked the true journalism in the country.
The Ghana Institute of Journalism is 60 years old this August, and is acknowledged as being one of the premier institutions in the country that Dr.Kwame Nkrumah established to train and TEACH journalists from all over Africa. This sorry state 60 years later is beyond sad, but a horrible legacy to our forefathers who had a vision of the institite churning out QUALITY African journalists. Instead, GIJ has become a conduit to churn out journalists who chase after "soli", or solidarity money to have stories published. This is also another worrying trend that is being dealt with slowly and surely.
At work, we always have a budget for "soli" to have stories published; it usually is to cover transport as the media houses are not interested in catering sufficiently for their employees. Little wonder soli becomes the order of the day. Without it, publication in the dailies is rare. That IS a reality.
As regards the online community, Ghana has an online community, with the latest being GHANABLOGGING.com. I have referred to the eponymous site in my SUNDAY WORLD[http://www.sundayworldonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=45&Itemid=61] ("technology" column: (http://twelvedaysintunis.blogspot.com/2009/03/nighmare-on-hp-pavilion-street-1.html), and will continue to do so. As far as I know, that is the most "structured" online community for bloggers blogging in Ghana. I have given a bit of an explanation of its genesis in the link above.
It is difficult to tell how many hits my blog gets a week, to be frank, as I have not been monitoring that much. What I do know is that it is listed in the TOP 100 Blogs about Africa: http://www.bachelorsdegreeonline.com/blog/2009/100-best-blogs-for-learning-about-africa/. The other bloggers in Ghana include GHANACONSCIOUS: http://ghanaconscious.ghanathink.org/blog.
Why I WRITE MY BLOG:
I like to write--and enjoy writing. Given that I love technology, the advent of blogging meant that I could combine my two interests to create a voice for myself. I have thus far managed to maintain five blogs quite regularly, and see blogs as helping me organise my ideas and thought. My blogs can be found on http://www.ekbensah.net.
The latest that is not there is http://african-union-citizen.blogspot.com, which title is "I am a Proud African Union Citizen".
The blogs that are very different from my ekbensahinghana and accradailyphoto.com are the http://critiquing-regionalism.org and http://twelvedaysintunis.blogspot.com.
The first chronicles ideas and thoughts on comparative global integration, with the latter being more about technology.
When you get no less than the AFP making serious mistakes on Africa as in the case below, then you know percpetions of Africa remain very very poor!:
"The six-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), of which Gabon is a member, has declared a community mourning period of 30 days. Foreign leaders will continue to arrive in Libreville for Bongo's state funeral."
1. GABON is in Central Africa
2. ECOWAS has 15 members--and a website: http://www.ecowas.int!
Why the BBC World Service?
I like the World Service because of its plurality, diversity, and quality of English. I am a lexophile, and find that despite the simplicity of the documentaries, I often learn more from the different KINDS of people who are interviewed on the WS. Plus, I miss my BBC Radio Four, and find the WS a great alternative! That it has an African service is great, but I would love to connect with MORE European programmes, such as "Europe Today". A podcast is great, but not enough for me!!
This entry was based on an email exchange with Journalist Adam Westbrook-former Ghana visitor-of-2002 and blogger who took time out of his busy life as a broadcast journalist to ask me some questions which reflect this post