The President, John Dramani Mahama, is reported to have made some derogatory remarks against the media during a meeting with some senior journalists. The word “lazy” was inclusive of the statement President Mahama made about the state of morning shows in Ghana.
His statement has generated interesting discussions in the very media that came under attack. Whilst the issue of foul and insulting language in both the print and electronic media was seen as an issue that the President wanted to address among other things, he has himself been accused of being guilty of the very things he complained about.
At least the President has since been reminded of his use of the words “baloney” and “useless” in some of his statements. The irony however is that the same politicians whose utterances the media usually mirrors through its reportage now want to accuse the media of heightening tension in the country and also being “lazy”.
It definitely is strange that the media is to be made a scapegoat by politicians who in my view are deeply guilty of the very things that the media is being accused of.
If Asiedu Nketia of the NDC uses the word “Idiot” or if Kobby Acheampong of the NDC uses the word “Kokoase nkorasene” and the media has a sound-bite of it and play it or transcribe it in their papers is it their fault?
There is no doubt at all that the Journalism profession ethically encourages journalists to be gate-keepers of what politicians do and say in order not to generate unnecessary tension in society. It should be a double edged issue of politicians not making the gate-keeping duties of the journalists difficult in my view through their controversial comments at times in the media.
I wanted the President to say: “Yes as politicians we are all guilty of our utterances in the media but the time has come for us to do something positive about it in order that we stay together as one country with a common destiny”. “We should guard our comments”, he should have added an appeal to the media to lift its gate-keeping responsibility high by not playing back some of the nasty things that politicians do say either through provocation or ignorance.
But to accuse the media of issues which are usually the origination of politicians is just equal to giving a dog a bag name in order to hang it. This to me is most unfair. The President or any other person should understand that Journalists are like the mirrors we have in our homes. You can not be a male and see yourself as female in the mirror.
If politicians, including President Mahama, should be honest to understand that the media is only a copy of what politicians say and do, then we all would be on the highway to making the journalism profession more important. The real fourth estate of the realm, I should say.
On the other hand, if President Mahama wanted to say the sensationalism in the media has reached an alarming proportion, then he needed to also counsel those of his party people who are overly sensational to tone down on it.
At least Baba Jamal, formerly of the Ministry of Information, is alleged to have urged staff of the Information Services Department (ISD) to learn to tell lies. He was said to have advised the staff of the ISD to learn how to call fowl, goat and goat an elephant to score political points.
My conclusion is that we are all guilty of how the media represents us on its pages. If the media is guilty of anything we should scold the media by first reprimanding ourselves for all those things we do spew out which provides the right oxygen for the media to breathe back at us.
Isolating ourselves from the excesses of the media will only mean that we are not ready and willing to right the wrongs of the media in our society.