Quack Journalists Destroying the Media
The media landscape in Ghana is increasingly becoming widened in scope. As such it has brought in its trails a lot of challenges with regards to standard and professionalism. While the print media is struggling to cope with production cost, some local radio stations continue to hit the airwaves churning out all manner of information in the name of information dissemination. It appears every district or Municipality in Ghana now has at least one radio station. Perhaps the long held philosophy that radio gets result, has been the main motivator for people to establish radio stations. But what we must know is that radio travels faster than any other media and therefore whatever information we are putting out there must be done with a lot of circumspection. But who is there sanitized the airwaves?
The little survey, not scientific though, I have done indicated that most of the local radio stations we have were established by politicians to promote their personal political agenda and those of the political parties they belong to. And those working there have been oriented to do things they do.
Lack of exhibition of professionalism in the media and failure to adhere to the highest journalistic standard are a few things that call for critical analysis if the media is to drive national development. Today, Ghana has been faced with many critical challenges that must be addressed. Political topics cover more than ninety percent of all the discussion we hear on radio. Some would say this come about as a result of the fact that politics drive every other thing.
The spread of media outlets especially radio, has resulted in the production of all manner of persons calling themselves journalist simply because they have the opportunity to sit behind a console and in front of microphone. Many of the radio stations springing up today do not want to hire more qualified, tried and tested journalists to manage or work in those stations. I am not in any way suggesting for once that young and inexperienced people should not be given the opportunity. They must be willing to first understudy those ahead of them. I blame media owners who rely on quack journalists to man their radio stations. Their reliance on quack journalists has to do with the fact that they don’t have the financial muscle to be able to hire and pay a highly qualified person.
I had a very bad experience with one of the local radio stations in the Keta Municipality after placing funeral announcement with them. In the cause of making the announcement I noticed it was fraught with so much incoherence, confusing and misleading. I didn’t take kindly to it! I couldn’t wait for the next day to walk into the radio station to tell them my beef. After visiting them to put things right, I expected the announcement to be carried with no difficulty at all but that was not to be! I walked straight into the radio station immediately because I was nearby when the announcer repeated the same mistake I have duly and painstakingly corrected. Yet he could not flow fluently with the information neither was he able to pronounce names correctly. As an announcer, you seek assistance for proper pronunciation of unfamiliar names and difficult words before going on air. You don’t go on air trying to it right by some kind of magic.
I demanded to speak to the one in charge of the station. In a few moments, a ‘gentleman’ appeared through the door. I greeted him and told him the announcement I have paid for was not being carried correctly as I had corrected earlier in the day. The English that came out from his mouth was grammatically challenged. He spoke so much subject-verb disagreement. His response was that there were too many announcements and that may have accounted for that problem. I insisted that was no excuse! I then questioned him over the competence of the announcer. Then he continued to slaughter the Queen’s Language insisting that the constitution of Ghana allows anyone to practice journalism. My goodness! His demeanour and general towards me, a customer for that matter, was clearly uncouth. He argued strongly that I should not tell him about standard because I am not the one to determine which standard they should follow. In fact, the guy also lacked basic skills in customer relationship management which prohibits exchanging of words with customer. He spewed so much ignorance that I wasn’t so surprised. It’s one cancer that is killing the Ghanaian media slowly.
Everybody and anybody who can speak English whether fluently or otherwise or write English like William Shakespeare, one is more than qualified to practice journalism. There are quite good number of people like the guy I have described above in the system. They do anything they like and get away with it. We are not prepared to call them to book. That erroneous impression has to be corrected by media employers and stakeholders. The rot in the media especially the electronic one, is one too many. We can’t to continue to lower media standard for any reason. Media owners and the regulatory bodies must up their game. The regulatory body must not hesitate to apply sanction when the need arises. If we allow the ship to sink too low, it may be difficult to rescue.