There is no doubt that over the past ten years or more the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has lost its relevance, credibility and importance in the country’s political arena.
The respect and authority we commanded in the good old days are no more there. Our leaders have equally failed to provide an effective and good leadership to bring back the association to its feet.
I need not to rehash the problems of the GJA. I will prefer to rather pour out my policy initiatives and the things I will undertake when elected as the next president of the GJA.
Journalism is a profession and it must be practised professionally. As journalists we need to go beyond this and fully understand its meaning and interpretation. As professional journalists we need to accord and adopt the rules necessary to accomplish our mission to inform our readers, listeners and viewers.
A 2010 World Bank publication (News Media and Governance Reform WB 2010) describes the three-fold role of the media as
These roles can only be played under a new leadership that has the VISION, CAPACITY AND INDEPENDENCE
This therefore calls for a group of leaders who are selfless and ready to sacrifice their time and effort to develop a more credible Association.
This leadership must be based on an all INCLUSIVE, DEDICATED and HONEST people with an underlying vision of creating a strong, formidable and credible association for Ghanaian journalists.
And this vision will be based on five Core Values
The New GJA under my leadership will be developed under FOUR main thematic areas.
3. Sound financial footing
4. Accounting and Transparent Administration
The first thing to do if we are to move forward is to have a critical review of our constitution and see if it is fit for purpose.
We will review and classify the membership of the Association. (Ref Article 8 Dues and Levies)
Training and re-training of members will be paramount. Journalists must know their stuff. We will try as much as possible to solicit external training programmes for members.
Within a wider context we will develop various continuous training programmes and specialised courses in the area of journalism for members. (Financial, environmental journalism, News Room Management among others). These training programmes in the near term will be located in an accredited university in the country to be run on behalf of the association. Durations will be from Three days to 16 weeks.
We will encourage journalists to take keen interest in union activities as the Association works towards a bargaining certificate. Journalists must not leave union matters to cleaners, drivers, and messengers and other auxiliary staff in their media organisations.
The Press Centre as it stands now looks more like “Bush Canteen”. What makes this facility a Press Centre apart from the inscription that we have on the building.
The Press Centre will be modernised to international standards. One of the rooms will be turned into a news room with fast internet facilities such that it will be very convenient for reporters after covering an event jump to the newsroom write their stories and wire them to their respective news room without any hustle. The content of our website will be improved to carry stories, articles and adverts.
We will improve on the facilities at this hall such that it will become the preferred destination for press conferences.
We will encourage media houses to place their bill boards within the inner perimeter of the compound at a moderate rate or fees per annum. Other communication companies and institutions will also be invited to do same for the outside perimeters.
Under my leadership we will improve the facilities on the compound such that the compound will be become attractive for individual and corporate institutions to hold programmes and functions. All these will be at a fee.
But can we build a six flat apartment on this compound to serve as a transit quarters for our brothers and sisters who at one point in time have to come to Accra to transact business. Yes we can. These flats can also be made available to foreign journalists who might come over to Accra to cover international assignments.
Souvenirs such as Lacoste, base caps, neck ties, cuff links, scarfs and other such things will be produced to help rebrand the Association and also raise money.
The welfare of journalists will be high on our agenda. How often do we attend programmes or events of other journalists. If that journalist is not your friend or comes from the same media house there is no appearance. This will have to change. We must learn to be each other’s keeper.
There is also the need to revive the Greater Accra Branch of the Association. The National Executive will not be an armchair executive, but rather will oversee the affairs of all the regions so that regional branches become effective in order to deliver on their mandate. Various Chapters in our media houses will be active and responsive.
Regular Annual General Meetings will be held as enshrined in our constitution. We shall not compromise on that. The Regional Branches will also be mandated to do same.
Registration of memberships to the Association will be decentralised. Please take note proper due diligence and vetting of applicants will be undertaken by the membership committee. If it comes to the crunch interviews will be conducted.
Executive members will be given oversight responsibilities to two regions and ensure that work plans and drawn and implemented. Every region will be expected to undertake at least four programmes in a year.
Retired members most of whom are honorary members will be effectively used in our training programmes. They will serve as mentors and coaches for the up and coming members.
The GJA will undertake investments on the financial markets to shore up the association’s finances. Not less than 20 per cent of the association’s financial resources will be invested. It is time the Association begins to gain financial independence.
We shall also undertake a comprehensive Group Insurance for our members bearing in mind the unfortunate incident of the Presidential Press Corp.
The concept of the GJA annual award will be reviewed to make it more meaningful, credible and beneficial. It must not be held for the sake of it but rather be organised in the manner that it will unearth creativity and talent and add to the development of journalism at all levels.
The World Press Freedom Day will be a week of serious activities and not a day’s flag raising ceremony. All regions will be expected to observe the week.
To encourage our photojournalist to come out with their best we will organise an annual photo-journalism exhibition (Two Weeks). This is to encourage professionalism in the field of photo-journalism.
Specialised bodies or groups of journalists will be developed and trained to enabled them perform more professionally.
Take group insurance for members. This is against the background of the fatal accident of the Castle Reporters sometime in 2015
Public lectures and symposium will be our portion. The Editor’s Forum Ghana will be strengthened tasked to undertake this intellectual activities. Senior Editors will be encouraged to be members. The Editor’s Forum must serve as peer review mechanism for very senior editors
Relations between the Embassies and the High Commissions will be strengthened for our mutual benefit. In the same vain we will strike a good working relations with the Institute of Public Relations and Advertisers Association of Ghana and the likes
Effective communication will be a key function under my leadership. All media houses will be encouraged to have a notice board so that programmes of activities and other relevant information will be posted for all to see and read. Members will be encouraged to write letters to the secretariat to seek any clarification on any issue. These letters and responses will be made open to all.
The same will apply at the national office here.
As the saying goes All work and no play makes Kofi an dull boy. Monthly Rendezvous will be held at on the last Friday of every month.
The GJA will rekindle the Media X1 football team. Weekly or bi monthly games will be held to enable journalists take some time off their stressing jobs to relax and network.
More importantly, Executive members will be entrusted with oversight responsibilities of the regional branches, sub committees and specialised groups.
Implementations of these activities are not rocket science. It is just the matter of delegation of duties and responsibilities. The rest is monitoring and evaluation.
But on may ask “ na sika ni wo hee”
Funding of these activities and programmes will come from internally generated revenue. If we put our house in order, The GJA can easily generate close to One Million Ghana Cedi per annum.
If after stabilising the association and it begin to re-gain its strength and credibility, the association will launch a GHs25million (Twenty five million) Ghana Media Fund (GMF) by the end of the first quarter of 2018.This is to increase quality, quantity and diversity of Investigative Journalism and public Interest Journalism in the country.