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The 23rd GJA Awards; Quotations 1

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Last weekend, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) celebrated its 23rd annual awards day at the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra.

It was a big moment for the winners.

They have already used the occasion to brand their media houses.

Obviously, it gives them an important marketing edge over their counterparts.

The winners’ marketing communications teams are already taking full advantage of it.

We congratulate all winners and all journalists and all writers who are struggling to improve the Ghanaian media landscape.

Ayekoo!!!… Well done.

Now to some pictures from the weekend’s moments interspersed with some relevant quotations from some media scholars/practitioners.

First, from David Croteau and William Hoynes from their book, Media/Society: Industries, Images and Audiences (2003).

‘…newsworthiness is socially constructed. It is not a property inherent in events, but is instead something that is attached to the happenings of journalists.’

‘Media influences on socialisation is not direct and unambiguous.’

‘For now, it’s enough to note that the media play a role, however, qualified, in socialising us into our culture.’

‘From a sociological perspective, the media play a crucial role in almost all aspects of daily life.’

The sociological significance of media extends beyond the content of media messages.’

‘Media also affects how we learn about our world and interact with one another. That is, mass media are bound up with the process of social relations.’

In short, our daily interactions are influenced by the ominous presence of the media, often without our awareness.

Second, from Dr Doris Dartey, Ghanaian media scholar and chairperson of the GJA Awards Committee.

Ghanaweb.com reported Dartey as saying at a press conference on Thursday that 36 out of 548 applications received by the Awards Committee were nominated.

She explained that the criteria for selection were accuracy, balance, fairness, relevance and thoroughness among others. Some stories were started well but did not lead anywhere so they were not useful to the audience.

Now that is an interesting point to note because many persons here in Ghana do not like lengthy articles.

She added that the Committee was lenient in the selection process given that more than half of the applicants did not follow laid down procedure.

‘The submission of entries was marred unprofessionalism, especially [by] those that submitted broadcast works….If we were very strict, the list of winners would have been very minimal,’ said Dartey.

‘And when I talk…..’, my mentor will add.

Dartey went on……

‘There is a recycling of award winners. The same old persons are always winning. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of radio stations and tens of newspapers in the country. We encourage more journalists to participate next time to make the awards much more competitive.’

In his book, Fighting for Freedom: Autobiography of an African Journalist, Kabral Blay-Amihere, who was director of the Ghana Institute of Journalism at age 28, tells of his short spell in Europe with a newspaper/magazine back in his heydays.

‘Let the story breathe’, his mentor retorted, when he, Blay-Amihere the champion of the Ghanaian media landscape at the time had submitted a story to his mentor/preceptor for publication.

Kabral Blay-Amihere who has since served as Ghana’s High Commissioner to Sierra Leone and La Cote D’Ivoire published his book in 2001.

He who became GJA president at least twice tells us that back then he was told by some “small” magazine editor in Europe that his story was dead; could not breath; had no life in it. And he was graciously and freely taught how to not write ‘an essay’ and present it as a news story.

Almost forty years after Ambassador Blay-Amihere’s experience, we have a similar verdict from the GJA Awards Committee.

Uhmmm.

‘The brain drain is here, right here’, was the first line I heard from my mentor.

Over twenty years ago, my mentor said that if you stay in “Ghana” and continue to glorify Banku (wrapped in plastic foils) with tilapia, then the influence you will have on the society is exactly what we see all around us; a nation in decline on many fronts.

Croteau and Hoynes have told us the effect of the media on society.

Perhaps, the response by the government of Ghana might help.

For, at the 23rd GJA Awards Ceremony, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, deputy information minister and for many years a radio show host of Joy 99.7FM Accra stated that the government will from next year strengthen the capacities of media personnel in production, analytics, editorial and specialisation.

Yet another promise! Strengthen the capacities indeed. To what level – international standard or the usual standard that we see, which is taken up by the apologists?

In the meantime a luta continua…no rest for the wicked.

Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah

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