Upholding the Fourth Estate: Excellent journalism needs support

IN recent times, the clarion call for journalists to rise against abuse of power and hold authorities accountable has reverberated across the media landscape.


 Prominent figures, including Sam Jonah, have urged journalists to embrace their role as watchdogs of society and fearlessly expose corruption and malfeasance. 

At an event to launch activities for the 75th anniversary celebrations of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Sir Sam admonished the media to be bold and hold authorities accountable. 

“As trained journalists, you have been taught to be wary of being overly optimistic or drearily pessimistic but to look carefully at the facts, the source, the context and any motive. Trust but verify. 

“And when you have your who, what, where, why and how, do not be afraid to publish the truth. It is better to tell the truth that offends than look on timidly, sheepishly and cowardly as the country’s interest is captured for the benefit of a few,” Mr Jonah said. 

He was of the view that perceived weaponisation of state agencies against opponents, the creeping assault on freedom of the press, the perceived lack of trust in the dispensation of justice, and the pathetic lack of accountability in the protection of the public purse being witnessed calls for the intervention of a “patriot”. 

“We cannot and must not compromise on our defence of the national interest. The success of our attempt at a democratic order will depend crucially on how free the press is,” Mr Jonah said. 

While the Daily Graphic wholeheartedly agrees with the imperative of upholding journalistic principles, it is crucial to acknowledge the pressing need for support for journalists and media houses in the country. 

The challenges facing the media and for that matter journalists are multifaceted and deeply entrenched. One of the most glaring issues is the woefully inadequate compensation that many journalists receive. It is disheartening to note that a significant number of journalists in the country endure long stretches without pay, leaving them financially vulnerable and demoralised. This not only undermines their job satisfaction but also hampers their ability to conduct investigative reporting and fulfil their crucial role in holding the powerful accountable.

The meager salaries that journalists in Ghana receive are a stark reflection of the lack of support and resources allocated to the media industry in the country. Unlike in more developed nations where charities generously contribute funds and resources for the training and development of journalists, Ghanaian journalists often find themselves struggling to make ends meet. This dire situation not only jeopardises the sustainability of journalism in the country, but also poses a threat to the very foundation of democracy.

The low pay that plagues many journalists in Ghana has far-reaching consequences. It does not only deter talented individuals from pursuing a career in journalism, but also leads to a brain drain within the profession. Bright students who are passionate about journalism may be dissuaded from entering the field due to financial insecurity, while many skilled journalists exit the profession when they start families and need higher incomes to support their loved ones.

The challenges facing journalists in Ghana are exacerbated by the competitive nature of the media space and the dwindling revenue from advertising sales, particularly with the onset of social media. Many media firms are struggling to stay afloat as they grapple with a declining patronage of newspapers, sales and diminishing resources to support their journalists. This precarious situation underscores the urgent need for a concerted effort to support and bolster the media industry.

If we truly value the media as the fourth estate – standing tall alongside the executive, legislative and judicial branches as a pillar of democracy – then it is imperative that journalists and media houses receive the necessary support and resources to carry out their vital roles effectively. It is a paradox that while journalists are expected to hold the powerful accountable and safeguard democratic values, they themselves are often deprived of the resources needed to fulfil their mandate.

Charitable organisations and entities can play a pivotal role in addressing this critical issue by donating funds and resources for the training and development of journalists in Ghana. By investing in journalists' professional growth, we can equip them with the skills and knowledge required to excel in their roles and uphold journalistic principles.

Media houses must prioritise offering fair and competitive salaries to their journalists although the business may be facing some challenges at the moment because good journalism can’t come cheap. Good salaries will aid in attracting and retaining talented individuals in the profession and also ensure that journalists can focus on their work without burdening themselves with financial instability.

We at the Daily Graphic are of the view that the time has come for all stakeholders in the media industry- including government officials, media owners, and civil society organisations – to come together and address the pressing challenges journalists in Ghana face. Journalists play an indispensable role in our society, and it is essential that they receive the support and resources necessary to play their pivotal role as watchdogs of democracy. Let us join hands and take a decisive action to ensure that journalism in Ghana thrives and continues to serve as a bastion of democracy.

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