Journalists should fight for better salaries; they only speak for other workers - Austin Gamey

Renowned labour relations expert, Austin Gamey, has entreated Ghanaian journalists to put as much effort into fighting for better salaries for themselves as they do into championing similar issues for public sector workers.


He made this call in an interview with Andreas Kamasah in reaction to the growing concerns of journalists not being paid duly for their toils by some media owners, although they make a lot of money.

Mr. Gamey attributed the unbefitting treatment journalists get from their employers to the ineffectiveness of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA).

According to him, the GJA is supposed to fight for the interests of journalists in the country in terms of their employment, remuneration, and safety, among other welfare-related matters, but it has been a white elephant over the years.

"First of all, you have a disappointment as a body because the Ghana journalists Association appears to exist only in name, because there is no unity among media people, the leadership is fragmented. As you know, by now they should have been having their elections, but they are unable to do it because they are fighting among themselves," he said.


He added that journalists have not been helpful to themselves because they always advocate for better working conditions for workers in other sectors but ignore their own predicaments, making it look like everything is fine with them.

"The media fraternity, because they write about people and issues, investigate and do related communications, they don’t write about themselves."

In his view, there are more journalists than media job vacancies available, so media owners take advantage of the situation to exploit journalists.

Mr. Gamey said the journalism profession looks rosy from the outside, so some young people venture into it blindly without realizing the realities of the job market.


"The various media training institutions churn out a number of journalists annually, and they must practice, so they find their way into various platforms, and because the owners of these bodies know that there is not much space, they can afford to treat them the way they like, use them up to a point and dump them, or they get frustrated and leave.

"Right from the educational institutions they are about to come out from, there must be an orientation about what the world of work may look like for them."

He urged journalists to insist on having a written contract with media owners "even if it is a casual, temporary, contract, and or permanent work" based on which they can act if their employers attempt to deviate from the terms of their employment.

He also recognized the fact that some media organizations, genuinely, don’t make enough revenue to pay their workers well, but others obviously have the wherewithal, only that they are deliberately being inconsiderate.

The issue of journalists being improperly paid resurfaced on social media last week following a Facebook post by former Ghanaian news anchor Keminni Amanor in which she decried the status quo, and called for a paradigm shift.


Keminni’s Facebook post got a lot of reactions, mostly from people within the media fraternity, and they agreed with her, but some of them only expressed hopelessness at the situation.

Retired Director of Radio GBC and media consultant Godwin Aven applauded Keminni for bringing up the subject matter, saying the situation needs urgent attention.

"I'm happy to note that journalists are commenting meaningfully to this post but where do we go from here? There's a lot of work to be done and the sooner the better," he wrote on Facebook.

He went on further to say: "The enslavement culture has deepened.


"I was contacted as a consultant to set up and manage an electronic media house in Gh and among some of the terms of my contract was to determine favourable conditions of service good enough to be the best and capable of attracting the best brains available.

"And it came to pass:

"I got approval to increase those coming from other media by 300 to 500% emolument and in addition a brand-new car for every head of department.

"It is doable

"We have the capacity to do it, raise standards and increase revenue for the investors."


Host of the Joy FM Morning Show, Kojo Yankson, also added his voice to the discussion, and urged his colleagues to be bold and approach their employers for better conditions of service if need be.

"it’s easier to walk down the hall to the media owner’s office to thrash out whatever issues you have. It’s certainly an easier option than doing a story about it," he wrote in reaction to Keminni’s Facebook post.

The issue of remuneration of Ghanaian journalists is in three folds; some media houses pay well; others pay but it's mostly nothing to write home about, while others too, to avoid paying the journalists, adopt the strategy of taking them as interns who they keep and use for years as if they were full-time employees, leaving them with no option but to be roaming in town from one event to the other to take money from organisers in the name of solidarity, aka ‘soli’. This situation also makes some journalists throw professionalism to the dogs and engage in criminal acts such as extortion and blackmailing of unsuspecting members of the public and business people under the guise of journalism.

The question is, should Ghanaian journalists continue to endure the disrespect, exploitation, and maltreatment at the hands of some selfish employers just because the GJA and other associations remain white elephants?

Well, Austin Gamey has a solution to the menace. He suggests that journalists working in the various media houses form internal unions and collectively fight for better conditions of service. He was, however, quick to add that most media organizations don’t allow their employees to form unions, just so they can continue to exploit them.



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