Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Reflections on the Ghanaian Media (1): Small Fries and Anna Bossman on My Mind

On Monday evening, I was priviledged to have a brief Facebook-chat with no less than the very personable and delectable Ag.Commissioner of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice(CHRAJ) Ms.Anna Bossman.

I like her; I've always done so. I think she often speaks truth to power. I love her candour, and the fact that she's so doughty--and such a strong woman. She has many endearing qualities, including her ability to talk to you like you mattered. I've met her personally before--but, then, she didn't know my name.

In short, we talked cursorily about the organisation of the 14th GJA Media Awards and how they could have rehearsed it. Plus the fact that we need to fight mediocrity in this country. I complained to her that I dropped the idea of meeting her at the panel because I'm small fry. It's difficult to tell with "celebrities" or people in the public eye, but when she wrote that I should have and she doesn't consider anyone "small fry", I kind of believed it. That she also engaged me first was a reflection of the degree to which she finds it important to do outreach even to people "beneath" her status. Did I say I like her?!!

All that said, I do not think you need to be a journalist to appreciate the work of journalists. Long before many of us knew what the Fourth Estate was in reference to, it was evident that their role was not to be sneezed at.

This is the reason why in scanning the media landscape, one cannot help but experience another level of frustration. Compared to my Nigerian counterparts, Ghanaian journalists in 2008/2009 have generally fallen short of quality and high standards. That might be rich coming from someone who is not a de jure journalist, but let's be real now: it's the truth! Grammar is often poor and, save the broadcast journalist, there are few that remain on top of the issues and give

robust interviews. One that easily comes to mind is CITI97.3FM's SHAMIMA MOSLEM, who is a very commendable broadcast journalist. (But more on her and CITI later!) Point is: many journalists and not just found wanting for quality, but napping.

Aware of this all-too-sorry state of affairs, which I consider a bit of a mini-crisis, I was greatly priviledged to sit on the 14th GJA Media Awards Committee out of the blue in June. The insights I have gained from these two months have only compounded the desire to do something constructive about it.

That I further got the opportunity to attend the awards night to see it all in what Graphic Showbiz's Francis Doku calls "Comedy of Errors" was not only humbling and a great honour, but a kind of great calling to blaze the trail on the improvement of standards in the profession. There is serious discontent among the fraternity of the inky kind and it needs must be resolved. I believe I would have failed if I do not take this experience to embolden a drive for improvement in the industry.

Even if I am "small fry".
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