A trend has emerged in media reporting which is so nauseous that one wonders why the National Media Commission (NMC) has not sanctioned it.
A cross-section of the private TV stations has taken delight in showing people’s faces in their misfortune during the airing of news.
Such stations do not exercise any circumspection whatsoever in their quest for sensationalism.
The event being reported might be domestic or professional; it could also be personal and so sensitive.
Yet, instead of displaying empathy and ethics, the stations unscrupulously launder the dirty linen of people in public, then paste the faces of the those involved on TV screens, slapping viewers with repetitive images of the stations’ victims.
Invasion of privacy in all forms is severely frowned upon in research and information dissemination.
It heightens unethical practice.
What the TV stations are doing is mindless exposure of vulnerable people’s emotional nakedness.
Revealing identities in certain circumstances implies sheer ignorance on the part of the party revealing identity.
Ethics and decorum dictate protection of the genuinely vulnerable.
Sometimes, a sheer sense of humanity makes one circumspect in how much information to release and how much to keep without crossing the boundaries of ethics, especially if circumspection helps to dignify others.
The glee with which the TV stations disregard ethics makes one cynical about the journalistic savvy of the stations and journalists.
On Sunday, November 21, a private TV station in Kumasi reported an event regarding an elderly man’s indiscretion and resultant pain in the Eastern Region.
The newsreader, also a man, could not empathise with the elderly, but rather mocked.
So unprofessionally, he laughed at another person’s predicament, showing the suffering man’s image several times.
If a man makes a jest of another man’s extreme pain, that man is a sadist.
Alarmingly, the news image also captured a group of people, mostly young, busily capturing the sufferer’s image with their phones.
Yet, that despicable news event epitomises the irreverent outlook of a major cross-section of Ghanaians, particularly the youth.
What this nation once held dear – respect, empathy, human, dignity, discretion, remorse, to mention six – are rapidly slipping through our fingers. Instead of revering our elders, we hold them in contempt.
Everything is a jest these days.
There are ethics guiding the revelation of identities of people involved in news, since such exposure could endanger people’s lives or leave a trail of major psychological implications for the victims.
Sometimes, there are life-long traumatic consequences.
Subsequently, broadcasting houses are obliged to protect the privacy of the personalities they report on.
When ethical stations air sensitive audio interviews, they blur the faces of the speakers.
Whether done for security reasons or protection of privacy, such stations respect and dignify their collaborators.
The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation is quite exemplary in such ethics.
It is a shame that the upstart TV stations are despising the learning ropes.
As nauseous as the unethical practice may be, the real culprit is the NMC, alongside the oversight body of the private broadcasters, for allowing a bad media practice to go unchecked.
Panin a ͻtena fie ma nkwadaa we nanka no, yekan nnanka wefoͻ a, yεkan no ka ho bi, is an Akan proverb which literally translates, the elder who allows children to have a meal of a boar is also a boar eater.
The proverb underscores the Akan custom tabooing a snake meal.
Unethical media practices are soaring because the oversight bodies continue to turn a blind eye to the unacceptable, thus, rendering themselves culpable.
It is about time that changed!
The National Media Commission must remember that anytime it ignores a media faux pas, it endorses the trampling of human dignity.
Heaping indignities on human beings is savagery.
Therefore, savage media practices render the Ghanaian society barbaric; fancy infrastructure, technological gadgets and constipated accent notwithstanding.
That horrible reality should motivate the commission to censor this nauseating trend.
The writer is a lecturer, Language & Communication Skills, Takoradi Technical University, Takoradi.