Media, either print, electronic or web is the only channel, which helps in making people informed. It also helps in entertaining, educating and making people aware of current happenings in the country.
The chapter twelve of the constitution of Ghana guarantees the freedom and independence of the media and also the rights of journalists.
The media has played an important role in the governance of Ghana since the colonial era. Being the so called the fourth estate of government, it has continued to play its immense role to date. The media is more vibrant than ever before and today government rely on the media for information from the people and also help the government to disseminate information to the people.
The role of the media is therefore very vital to keep or destroy the democracy of Ghana.
A truly democratic society requires a medium of information dissemination and educating citizens and their involvement or participation in democracy and the media has not fail in playing this important role.
Media as it is cannot operate itself without journalists. As an up and coming journalist I sometimes get a bit scared for choosing journalism as a profession. At a point in time I ask myself if there are any laws that protect us.
The question is, are there any established institutions that work in the interest of journalist? Again, is there any crime in reporting or disseminating sensitive information to the public? If media practitioners are being beaten and others killed for doing their expected work then how can the democracy of this country work properly?
Brutalization of journalists has become order of the day. Journalists are often harassed, intimidated or beaten by citizens whose interest we work for and security officers who are supposed to protect us. The trend is growing because most people out of ignorance think journalism is all about gossiping around and the most awful is that even well-educated politicians think same. Journalists are watchdogs and are not gossips.
One thing the general public refuse to know is that if journalism as a profession in the country is being terminated, then the democracy of this county will fail. The opposition government will play a vital role in exposing corrupt officials but this cannot be properly done without the media and its practitioners. Every profession is important in this country and equal respect must be accorded to all.
More than three journalist were brutalized in vain by some government officials just last year and little was done to stop others from doing same. Journalists do not have the freedom and comfort to do their work in our democratic country anymore. Ghana is no longer safe to practice journalism.
What was the crime of the Tiger eye IP investigative journalist, Ahmed Suale who was murdered in cold blood on the 17th of January 2019?
It seem we are going back to history where some journalists like Kwesi Prat, Kweku Baako and the likes suffered inhumane treatment under some PNDC laws.
We now leave in a society where the media plays an important role in how the citizens see the nation and how opinions are formed but the same citizens the media practitioners kill themselves for brutalize and assassinate them.
The media has helped to make our society a democracy by placing emphasis on issues that at one stage in time which would have been considered strictly private issues such as child birth, homosexuality, child care, domestic violence and sexual harassment among others public issues.
If all journalists will be treated this way for reporting sensitive information then our country is indeed not safe for journalists anymore. In recent times the media in developing countries especially Ghana, is coming across as powerless and sycophantic in our democratic environment. Some media houses have been reduced to top governmental official machines because they own them and as a result they work based on their directives. If not so, then how on earth will a particular media house show an uncovered pictures of an undercover investigative journalist because they were directed to?
Now to my senior journalists please come together to uphold the integrity of the profession and also protect one another.
Enough of the brutalization and assassination of journalists.
The leaders of Ghana Journalism Association, Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah and other appropriate authorities should find better solutions to curb such brutalization and assassination actions against media practitioners.
By Patience Adom Botwey
The writer is with the Information Services Department (ISD), under the National Service Scheme