Feature Article of Wednesday, 29 July 2015
Columnist: Brako-Powers, Kwabena
Often said to be the fourth estate of realm in the parlance of government and governance – the media stand tall as one of the powerful elements in leadership. Corollary, it’s expected that the men and women in the practice should be powerful and right-minded. They have to be incorruptible, agenda-setters, pace-setters, action-oriented, non-compromising and more importantly financially independent. For these reasons, centuries on, campaigns have been waged to purge the practice of persons who have everything but afore listed qualities whose attitudes bleed the industry dry of its hard-fought dignity.
A multi-billion industry like the media should not only promise luxury but deliver dignity, and financial independence to its practitioners. For an industry to thrive, grow and be respected, it must have within it self-garnered dignity. It must generate respect. And this must not be commanded. It must be earned through right-mindedness, incorruptible attitudes, and appearance. Media houses who underpay their workers are walking-dead media outlets who will be treated arbitrarily by those who command influence in the society. Their men and women will not be respected wherever they go to cover news items. Also if your men or women dress haggardly and beg for GHC5.00 from communication directors of businesses, know that, you will soon be faced with dignity-crush.
In an industry like this, it’s easy for practitioners who are underpaid and again have no knowledge of the ethics associated with the practice to become easy preys to kings and queens (money wielders) in the society who promise them heaven on earth in exchange for the underdevelopment of the nation. Such individuals, in exchange for their dirty cover ups; pilfering of states money, plundering the nation dry through unapproved deals, and stashing of money belonging to the state in foreign banks, give these media personnel fat envelopes to shush them – the supposed gate keepers. And as expected, with the hunger raging in their stomachs, they will checkmate their dignity and the development of their nation for their temporary gain.
The practice in Ghana has also suffered its share of setbacks with persons who claim to be in the field exhibiting attitudes that are ‘wrong-minded’ and everything but dignity-filled. They have sold their integrity and incorruptible tenets for pittance and porridge. Persons from the same outfit for want of money or disrespect will attend programs and pretend to be coming from different media houses just to ‘enrich’ themselves.
To complete their mission of commanding disrespect, such practitioners will go to the extent of begging money from managers of businesses because the one given them by the communication directors were not enough to satisfy their greed. Rather than executing their gate keeping role effectively through accountability and justice, such pawns have turned themselves in as de facto advertisers of businesses and individuals who want to be popular – a clear indication of the absence of respect for the ethics of the industry.
The problem has been compounded greatly by two incidents; proliferation of mushroom media houses motivated by money and the unemployment situation in the country. Some average persons who believe there’s a booty to be picked on the media landscape have gone ahead to set up media houses to reap some of the harvest. And instead of falling on experts or persons already in the field who understands the ethics and ethos of the industry, they end up recruiting senior high school graduates, polytechnic graduates and degree holders and under pay them too.
It gets nauseating when some individuals boldly insult media men and women – an indication of loss of respect for the industry, for practices frown upon by the industry’s ethics. The industry still stands today as powerful if we will school our men and women through the ethics and ethos of the industry. It also stands to reckon that, we need to pay these men well.
The industry shouldn’t only promise but deliver. Regaining the dignity of the industry could be done when we prioritize the welfare, appearance and knowledge content of the practitioners. In other words, we must kill the hunger in the stomach of the journalist to insure for the industry dignity and respect so essential.