The head of the School of Communications Studies of the University of Ghana, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, has observed that the way the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) handled the attack and subsequent destruction of a journalist’s audio recorder was indicative that state owned media was not all that free in Ghana.
Prof Gadzekpo who was commenting on the issue of a recent attack and destruction of a tape recorder of GBC’s Yahaya Kwamoah at the 37 Military Hospital by Mr Stan Dogbe, a presidential staffer, noted that “in listening to the GJA President and the back-and-forth about this whole issue, it reminded me that we may have gotten far in terms of journalistic independence in some way, however there is a strong culture of pandering to officialdom that still blights our media particularly state owned media.
After the incident, Mr Yahaya Kwamoah reported the matter to the GBC management and he was asked to provide a written report. The GBC failed to air the incident in any of its bulletins.
One of the victims of the accident, Mr Napoleon Ato Kittoe, a GTV staff in narrating the incident to a police investigator said the driver of the accident vehicle was speeding but Mr Affail Monney, President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and Director of Radio at the GBC discounted Ato Kittoe's account and said it could not be true since he [Ato Kittoe] was sleeping at the time of the accident.
Mr Monney mentioned the Chief of Staff, Mr Julius Debrah as his source and said that information was provided to the Chief of Staff by Mr Wisdom Awuku, a presidential aide responsible for media coordination who claimed he was on the bus, a claim that has since been denied by some of the victims. Mr Awuku was said to be sitting in a different vehicle which carried cameramen at the time of the accident.
Mr Monney's account of the events choosing to disregard a narration from a journalist cum eye witness and rather going with what officialdom [Chief of Staff] gave him has received wide condemnation.
The media professor commenting on the matter on Joy FM’s Newsfile programme at the weekend did not hide her shock at the conduct of the GJA President who is a staff of GBC and the whole bureaucratic nature that the institution asked its reporter to file his complaint so it would be looked into.
“This is critical in official position … when they compromise the safety of a journalist and press freedom.”
“If you are unhappy with a journalist’s behaviour, there are all kinds of places you can go to report that behaviour including the court. To attack a journalist is never an option. I was surprised that immediately that happened the GJA executives led by their President did not whip themselves in line particularly because of who was responsible."
The GBC reporter, Yahaya Kwamoah, was at the 37 Military Hospital two weeks ago to report on the accident involving the presidential press corps (which killed a Ghanaian Times journalist) when Mr Dogbe, who is the head of the Communications Bureau at the Presidency, allegedly pounced on him and destroyed his recorder.
The assault on the reporter is said to have been triggered by Mr Kwamoah’s alleged recording of a ‘private’ conversation between Communications Minister Dr Edward Omane Boamah and Mr Dogbe.
Commenting, the media professor said there has been several attacks on the media that are not from agents of the state but from ordinary citizens and last year the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) chronicled at least 10 attacks on journalists, six by police and military personnel acting on their own volition and others by ordinary people.
“We can add to that list agents acting on behalf of the President because Stan Dogbe is a presidential staffer.”
"I think that every single day...the media should repeat the call on the president to fire Stan Dogbe because he has violated the very basics of respect for the press by attacking a journalist," she said.
Source: Daily Graphic
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