The 20th (2022) World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) saw Ghana dropping by 30 spots from 2021 to rank 60 out of 180 countries assessed.
As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day, I wonder where the freedom is when:
1. Politicians and political entities control the operation of media organisations
2. Politicians and political entities set the agenda for media houses and journalists to follow
3. Journalists are underpaid but well paid with “soli” and “T&T” after covering events
4. Journalists are holding political offices while feigning objectivity before the masses
5. Media advertising is monopolised by a few mighty media groups
6. Small publishers are cannibalised by the few mighty media groups who give them no chance to thrive and rather compete against them
7. There is no culture of media buyout of small publishers that are doing well with no revenue to ensure media pluralism
8. Shutdowns are effected based on whose toe is stepped on
9. Journalists are attacked and we put the cart before the horse
10. The media only gets access to information when the right ass is kissed or during election years
11. Journalists are arrested and manhandled just to caution others or to influence media discourse
12. Journalists act as mouthpieces of the government to discredit other journalists and media organisations that go against unpopular state policies
13. Media associations have their hands tied behind their backs on issues of journalists
14. Journalists cannot share opinions without reprimand and the expression of the opinions of the masses are discouraged
15. Pull down the story, stop writing about me, pay me before I speak with you, I will sue you – are common phrases heard by media practitioners
16. The rich (in this case pastors and herbalists) have choked the airwaves on both TV and Radio while the poor publishers who can only afford blogs for a short time do not get the reach
These factors and many more affect the freedom of journalists and media practice in Ghana. To be victorious, we need to uphold the principles of objectivity, independence and freedom to ensure a quality and efficient media landscape.
We need a more inclusive stakeholder meetings and not only engage the “veterans” who hardly understand how new media works.
Times have changed and we need to change too. The media forces necessary change and it is up to us to decide whether we want a positive change or a negative change.