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Journalists And Politics: What Venom Does To The Shell Of A Tortoise

I remember clearly what my uncle and Caretaker, then, told me when I
revealed that I wanted to be trained as a journalist after Secondary education.
I was a pupil at Rabboni Redeemer School Complex at Wassa Akropong in the
Western Region. That was in 2001.

“You’ll be beaten if your report on someone does not go well with
them….Journalists are decorated gossips; they’re liars. I won’t allow
that.” Those were the words of Pastor Emmanuel Okrah. To him Journalism
did not pay off.

Redeemer, my school, was one of the best if not the best at Akropong. The
fees was somehow high, hence he was not wrong by asking me to be in the medical
school and end up in the consulting room, where he could in his old age see me
for consultation on his health.

In those days,anytime a discourse of career was put on the table at home, I
had to deal with the frustrations that came with it from him and other family
members akin to how a kid with uncovered sores prevents flies from feasting on
their sore. That was the kind of preventive method I took did till I completed
my course in Journalism school.

When Jaman North could not vote on 7th December, and had to vote the next
day following a protest from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that the
voter transfer list the Electoral commission (EC) had compiled for the
constituency was bloated, I was contracted by Multimedia Group to cover the
elections for Joy News channel on Multi TV, Joy FM and their affiliate radio
stations across the country. After the results were declared the next day, My
Uncle who had in the past scolded me for wanting to be a media practitioner was
the first person to call and congratulate me for that feat. I wanted to remind
him of his words to me some 15 years ago,but I stopped upon a second thought.

Today, I have paid him a visit in Kintampo where he has been transferred to,
and I will make sure I remind him of that before I leave.

Growing up, I was driven by a love for my society and Ghana as a whole. I
wanted things done the right way for the benefit of the citizenry hence my love
for journalism.

My class 5 teacher, MR. Paul Beeton Damoah once told me journalists wield so
much power in the society. Perhaps that informed my decision to aspire to be
one, especially when I realised they had the power to question politicians who
controlled, and still controls almost everything in our endowed country.

Ghana is blessed with unbelievable natural resources but suffering from
chronic leadership failure on all fronts. Are journalists not the group supposed
to find a panacea to that problem?

Our work as media, in my view is to expose the ills in our society,
meticulously ask why certain things are done the way they are done, and
instigate positive change in attitudes and mindsets of the masses.

Again, our job is not only to report events and point out their
implications, but also to anticipate problems and flag them before they become
calamitous.

I started working with Sampa- based Gye Nyame FM in the Brong-Ahafo Region
as a morning Show producer in January 2014, a year after President John Mahama
was sworn in as Ghana’s president.

My team and I have been incessantly accused of all kinds of things including
pursuing a political agenda, running commentary on “issues we have no business
talking about”. Some even say we are doing “lazy journalism” .I, however,
have endured the pressure and the name calling as I did in my teen years to
defend my profession.

In January 2015, I recall when the member of Parliament for Jaman North Hon.
Siaka Stevens, claimed ‘ownership’ of a 6-Unit Class room block that was funded
by the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) at Duadaso, a community near Sampa,
I posited that the MP’s addition of that building he lobbied for to his
projects as though his common fund catered for it was needless and that, the
NDC government owed the absolute right to call it theirs. I was called a
“rented journalist’ by the ‘disciples’ of the MP.

Besides, I believed all those tagging stemmed from a misunderstanding of what
we do and what motivates us.

In the latter part of September 2016, a contractor arrived at Sampa to work
on the town roads without any conspicuous sod cutting ceremony. Eventually,half
a kilometre of road was tarred without any proper drainage system. To me, it
did not make any sense, so were many of the indigenes. It looked like the
authorities wanted to lurk behind that to bait the ignorant voters to vote for
the NDC.

No sooner had the work commenced than Gye Nyame FM’s morning show, ‘Adie
Akye Abia’ questioned the rationale behind the tarring of the dusty roads.
Critical questions were posed to the authorities, which sometimes ended up in
Hon. Daniel Nti Ateware, the District Chief Executive hanging phone on
journalists on live radio.

The apparatchiks of the NDC, as usual, said we were doing the New Patriotic
Party’s bidding.

My stories on the project were highly condemned by the NDC fraternity. Like
America’s 39th Vice President Spiro Agnew, government representatives said our
news team had become a “nattering nabobs of negativism”.

I said to myself that if pursuing the interest of the people attracts the
criticism that we have an agenda, then thank God!

Radio is a powerful medium, but for it to yield positive results, it must be
approached from an enlightened, well-informed mindset, and that is what Abdul
Razak Asiagodo, the host of the morning show stands for. I jokingly asked him
of how he feels when he hear people aligning him to a political party. His
response was: “It’s very normal because it’s their opinion and I respect that.
I would probably have been worried if I were aligned to a particular party all
the time but I drive satisfaction from the fact that, such calls come from both
sides of the political divide and that gives me a sense of how opinionated I
am. We all can’t be on the same page all the time but no matter where we are
coming from or going to, what is wrong is wrong and what is right is right
irrespective of who is in the picture.” I totally agree with him on that.

As journalists there is too much at stake to let the fear of being labelled as
NDC or NPP cower us into a silence that will lead to destruction.

Many are the broadcasters who are tagged as belonging to party ‘A’ or ‘B’
every now and again. Manasseh Azure Awuni, Kwame Adinkra, Bernard Avle, Kojo
Yankson and the likes have been backlashed because of their way of work but,
have they died?

In my humble opinion, every determined journalist cares less about these
political tags but national development. Our elders say the venom of a viper
does nothing to the back of a tortoise.The slanderous defamation on
broadcasters and or Journalists for political reasons does nothing to us
instead it tells us to work even harder.

There is a new government waiting to be inaugurated on Saturday, 7th
January. to me,nothing changes in our line of work, because the interest of the
people will continue to supersede ours.

It may be true that talking won’t solve our problems, but silence won’t
either!

The writer, Emmanuel Henryson Okrah, is a broadcast journalist and a
reporter with Peace FM and Sikamannews.com



Email: piesieokrah@gmail.com

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Kofi Oppong Kyekyeku

I am a Ghanaian Broadcast Journalist/Writer who has an interest in General News, Sports, Entertainment, Health, Lifestyle and many more.

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