Albert Dwumfour now leads the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA). He will be doing so with other newly elected officers whose mandate will be to steer affairs of the GJA for the next three years.
Last Friday, members of the association across the country gave Dwumfour and his crop of new executives a decisive mandate to take the association to the next level.
While congratulating the new officers on being elected, it is important to ask: Can the Dwumfour-led leadership take GJA to ethical heights?
Established on August 15,1949, it is important to further point out that the GJA, which is an umbrella organisation representing journalists in Ghana, is at the crossroads having gone through chequered history and undoubtedly faces many challenges. They include political differences among some members of the association which affected unity and solidarity that resulted in a lull of activities between 1950 and 1954.
The association also faced dormancy between 1972 and 1974 while it also went through a period of culture of silence which resulted in a number of journalists running into exile.
Today, ethical violations and irresponsible journalism are also among the issues the association has been grappling with, even after the repeal of the criminal libel and seditious law in 2001.
Thankfully, Ghana’s Fourth Republican Constitution under Article 12 brought to the GJA a renaissance that raised the association’s profile, independence and influence in the body politic.
Tremendous strides have been made towards the fulfilment of its aims and objectives. They include the development of a Code of Ethics for journalists in 1994 and the establishment of a permanent secretariat, christened Ghana International Press Centre, in 2003.
It is, however, worthy to note that an association is a group of persons who share common interests or a common purpose and are well organised.
An association, therefore, provides benefits to its members, particularly if it is a vibrant one. These benefits include advocacy, lobbying, promotion of standardisation and best practices such as conducting research, providing guidance and training in best practices, and development of certifications. Other benefits of joining a vibrant association include career planning and opportunities for professional development, welfare and recognition as well as giving awards to promote professionalism.
Is GJA doing well?
It is important to state that since its establishment 73 years ago, the GJA should have done far better than it is doing currently. Our global ranking is nothing to be enthused about.
It was worrying that the last GJA administration, led by my good brother, Roland Affail Monney, was fraught with inherent challenges. Some of the challenges included administrative lapses, over staying of tenure and lack of inclusiveness. There were also accusations of the leadership (wrongly or rightly) pushing the association to the corridors of power and money, regarding the sponsorship of the GJA awards.
There were controversies also regarding who became a Journalist of the year, among others. The leadership was accused of taking unilateral decisions on most critical issues that arguably made some entities shy away from the association because they were at a loss as to whether the GJA was a political or an independent body.
But in spite of the challenges facing the GJA in the promotion of qualitative journalism, there is need for the new crop of executives to demonstrate tremendous commitment to improve the situation, particularly in promoting media accountability.
I am hoping that with the elections over, the new executives will bring in fresh lease of life to the GJA to enable it to discharge and achieve the aims of its establishment.
These include enhancing professionalism and higher journalistic standards; ethical journalism; strengthening the regional chapters and contribution of the association and its members to democracy and good governance; protecting and strengthening the rights of members; respecting; defending and expanding the frontiers of freedom of expression; pluralism of the media and universal access to information, among others.
The new executives must, therefore, take GJA to new heights where the journalist is respected and displays higher standards of integrity.
Now that the long awaited polls is over, let members of the GJA be reminded that we all need a leader who can steer the affairs of the Association rightly which will require our collective support and input.
At this critical time, there is no need for any formation of a break away group. You cannot stay outside the loop and criticise. We must all be within and share knowledge and experience to move GJA forward.
There’s obviously a lot of work to be done. But first the task will be to bring winners and losers on board and inject higher sense of inclusiveness into the business of the GJA.
Dwumfour and his new crop of officers must realise that positions are not possessions, so they must also manage their elevated roles with measured care and caution. As new officers, whose tenure ends in three years, they must make it a priority to, more importantly, appreciate members of the GJA and rally them to serve mother Ghana while demanding accountability from the ruling elite.