By their work, news reporters — through the medium of newspapers, magazines, radio, television or via the Internet — present information as news to their audiences.
They do this by gathering information and presenting it in written or spoken forms in news stories, feature articles or documentaries.
Most citizens rely on the work of news reporters to get information on happenings in their communities, countries and globally. Indeed, the work of the media is so important that it is usually referred to as the Fourth Estate of the Realm, after the Judiciary, the Executive and the Legislature.
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Again, freedom in many countries is determined, to a large extent, by how free the media in that jurisdiction are, and a nation deemed to have a free media is often regarded as having a well-developed democracy.
That is why when the journalists group, Reporters Without Frontiers, voted Ghana as being first in Africa and 23rd globally in the World Press Freedom ranking, many Ghanaians rejoiced and took pride in our position.
But the assault on a female reporter of Adom FM, Ohemaa Sekyiwa, by a member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Hajia Fati, last Friday and a number of such assaults on Ghanaian journalists early on have set many asking whether the ranking meant anything to some people.
In recent times, a number of Ghanaian journalists have had to bear the brunt of people in authority who have brutalised these reporters in their line of duty.
Cases of brutalisation of reporters in recent times are too many to recount, but a few will suffice:
March 5, 2017: Officials of Accra Great Olympics attacked a photojournalist, Senyuidzorm Adadevor, at the Accra Sports Stadium during an Olympics-WAFA football match.
March 6, 2017: Soldiers attacked a freelance journalist, Kendrick Ofei, during Ghana’s 60th Independence Day celebration at the Independence Square in Accra.
June 27, 2017: A journalist with Otec FM in Kumasi, Isaac Nsiah Foster, was attacked by workers at a construction site where he had gone to investigate complaints by local residents of the siting of a fuel station.
July 2, 2017: A three-member crew from TV3 (Myepaul Sowah, Richmond Tanoh and Peter Asare) was assaulted by some suspected land guards while investigating encroachment on a piece of public land at Teshie, Accra.
March 27, 2018: A photographer of Multi Media, Latif Idris, was brutally beaten by the Police CID while he was covering events at the Police Headquarters.
He sustained factures to his ribs and skull.
October 10, 2017: The Omanhene of the Wassa Akropong Traditional Area, Tetre Akuamoah Sekyim II, forced Larry Saint, a journalist with Rivers FM, to kneel in the sun for hours for criticising him on WhatsApp.
In spite of the fact that many of these were reported to the police, the perpetrators have not been brought to book.
The Daily Graphic views the attack on the Adom FM reporter as unwarranted and calls on the police to get to the bottom of the case to assure the public and journalists that they can go about their duties without any fear.
We join the Association of Women in the Media (ASWIM), the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the Media Foundation for West Africa and all other well-meaning organisations in condemning the attack and call on the NPP to sanction their erring member to serve as a deterrent to others who may be harbouring such intentions
We urge other media organisations to come out to condemn the act.
Today it is a reporter from another media house who is the victim; the next time it may be a reporter from your media house.