There is nothing like having the world and most especially, your own, turn its back on you when you need their support most. It can be a regrettable lonely world to be in.
And so, the move by the new Executive of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to introduce, for the first time ever, a support fund offering needed welfare assistance to its distressed members is a laudable one.
The Journalists Support Fund, as it has been christened, was birthed at the Ghana International Press Centre last Wednesday. It was a symbolic occasion witnessed by some distinguished personalities and the world at large as the president of GJA, Albert Kwabena Dwumfour declared that “Journalist’s life matters”.
It is significant that the birthing of the welfare fund coincided with this year’s World Press Freedom Day. A Day when the world marked the 10th anniversary of the UN plan of Action on the safety of journalists.
World press freedom day
This year’s World Press Freedom Day highlighted attacks on Journalists with impunity globally. According to UNESCO, the safety of journalists and their freedom of expression and the free flow of information are “pillars of democratic life and prerequisite for all human rights”
The time has indeed come in the history of the GJA, to find ways to support its own, after all, it is said that charity begins at home. Now, those affected by attacks of impunity as well as those who once stood in positions of trust in the various newsrooms, bringing critical information and knowledge to Ghanaians but who have gone down under because of hardships in retirement can begin to smile.
Hopefully, as people see that GJA is making moves to help its own, others will join hands to contribute to the Fund since heaven helps those who help themselves.
Journalists, as voices of the voiceless in any society, put their lives on the line to cross into dangerous zones just to look for and bring human interest stories. They expose the rot and canker in our societies and make leaders accountable.
Their roles as development agents cannot be downplayed. They go where all others would not venture and in the process, sometimes face all sorts of attacks, physical and emotional.
The impunities directed at journalists that exist in those same societies, however, are silencing their good work, especially the investigative lot. Such impunities which sometimes lead to maiming and even death, affect the core of the citizen’s freedom with ultimate consequences for everyone.
Those impunities which have been experienced here at home, have regrettably contributed to Ghana’s painful fall on the latest world press freedom index by 30 places. On the global scene, the new UNESCO data has revealed that the global impunity rate for journalists’ killings remains shockingly high at 86 per cent.
These statistics attest to the fact that violence and impunities against journalists in the course of their duties are increasing. The risks attached to the job are many and some specific examples here in Ghana tell the stories of victims being left on their own at some point to face emotional and sometimes crippling legal or medical costs. In extreme cases of death, families are left with no one to cater for their needs.
The legacy regime of the new GJA Executive will be remembered in the history of the Association with the timely launch of the welfare support fund. The fortunate news about it is that the fund will not only be there for journalists who face impunities and injustice in the practice of their jobs, exposing rots and holding leadership accountable.
It is also meant to cushion those members who, once upon a time, were very active in the profession and now retired and need critical support.
The Fund will somehow encourage journalists to do their work without fear and offering the needed support for their well-being.
While one salutes the walking-the-talk strides of the GJA Executive in its first 100 days of assuming office, one would also like to encourage them to let their imagination go wild and explore many more support and training opportunities home and abroad for their practitioners.
One thing the Executive could do to help expose and upgrade is members’ knowledge and practice is cross-fertilisation where short-term attachment opportunities from one media house to the other could be arranged.
Indeed the journalist’s life matters and the call by the GJA president should be championed as a collective one. While the GJA strives to make it a profession of choice by every standard, one would like to tap into UNESCO’s call that “when it comes to protecting journalists, everyone has a part to play”.
According to UNESCO, “If we are complacent, if we look away, we are part of the problem”. May we all be players, deeply involved in making the work of journalists as watchdogs in society and voice of the voiceless and not as mere spectators and a problem.
May the noble welfare initiative of the Kwabena Dwumfour-led GJA Executive receives the targeted funds needed to keep the initiative running.
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