The Press: Who is a journalist? Nanaba Amoako writes

After listening to the news and other current issues yesterday, I was flipping through channels and I stumbled upon a television presenter who identified herself as a ‘journalist’ I was stunned to hear that, she has not undergone formal training, has no journalism credentials, yet, purports to be a journalist.

However, as a student journalist, it is of great concern to enlighten individuals on this matter. I ask. Who is a journalist? Do we call someone who appears on a television screen, one, we listen to on the radio, and a blogger a journalist?

This feature is not to ruffle feathers but, its interest is to educate the public on the disparities between people who are known to be presenters and the press.

Many scholars have defined journalism in several contexts. Brian MC Nair defines journalism as any authored text in written, audio or visual that claims to be presented to its audience as a truthful statement about or record of some hitherto unknown feature of the actual social world.

In my voice, journalism as a profession entails a lot, which is why I say “it is a calling” A presenter on the other hand is an individual who appears in a television or radio programme.

The PRESS is a very pertinent institution in the society. Its main obligation is to the truth, and first loyalty is to the public. It is the core mandate of journalists to provide truthful and accurate information to its citizens.

Journalism is about how human interest stories impact society. The PRESS is also known as the fourth estate; thus, probing into controversial issues and revealing wrongdoings in society.

It is disheartening that, sometimes journalism is undermined. However, society cannot function without it.

There are regulatory bodies that govern every organisation. The National Media Council (NMC), The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), and the National Communication Authority (NCA) are some control agencies guarding the practice of journalism.

However, journalists have some challenges they face, making the profession unattractive in recent times.
The 1992 constitution of Ghana guarantees the freedom of the press. Seemingly, things are the opposite. Assassination of journalists is one hurdle in journalists’ pathway.

There have been several instances, where journalists are not guarded.

One other challenge is that most media organizations lack the ability to offer incentives to hardworking journalists to appreciate their efforts.

This is common in Ghana in most cases. Media General which happens to be one of the Media Houses, is captured as the only entity offering incentives for journalists.

Apparently, journalists are also feeling the pinch in these hard times with their meagre salaries.

Moreover, journalism becomes extremely difficult when journalists allow themselves to be influenced by certain factors. How do we continue to preach ‘Objectivity’ as a principle of journalism if they let their biases colour the story produced?

The work of a journalist demands a lot as compared to other respective professions but it appears that there is a vast difference between the monthly salary of a journalist to that of the rest of corporate institutions.

Imagine a journalist voicing for the marginalised groups, and at the end of the day, his monthly stipend cannot even buy him food. This is unfair on the victim’s part.

Inferring from my lecture today, and the various functions of journalism that have been outlined, there is no iota of truth that journalism is the only profession that can save the economy.

Writer: Francisca Nanaba Amoako
A student at UNIMAC-IJ

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