Media Vigilantism The Other Threat

As members of the fourth estate of the realm, the onerous task upon us to serve society with an unalloyed sense of responsibility putting out only the truth and nothing but that should not be compromised.

Many have wondered whether or not lessons from the irresponsibility of the media especially those who go on air and the inappropriate consequences guide us in any way in our daily chores behind the consoles or on the pages of newspapers. Otherwise persons claiming to be possessed by the Holy Spirit won’t spew the kind of venom we are subjected to on the airwaves.

We are aware that some of us have not gone through the rituals of journalism lectures to imbibe the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of composing news stories and presentation of programmes on air.

But this shortcoming notwithstanding the basic etiquettes or societal mores should guide us in the manner we write for others to read and speak for others to listen even as non-professionals.

The reflections of our varying upbringing are too prominent in the way some of us conduct ourselves in our practice of journalism; the difference between the bad elements in our fold and vigilantes is in the implements at our disposal.  While vigilantes use brawn and sometimes firearms, their counterparts in the media use lies and bad language to push their agenda.   

For some, journalism is a calling and therefore a profession; for others, however, it is an occupation in a space where there are no restrictions for those who wish to join up.

Anything that would seek to restrict those who practise journalism would be misconstrued to be muzzling press freedom. In other jurisdictions however, the reverse is the story. In Iran, only persons licensed to practice journalism are allowed to do so as it is in others parts of the world.

We are aware about others who even though did not receive the academic lessons of journalism are engaged in the occupation playing their parts without blemish.

Just why a person hiding behind the ruse of possession by the Holy Spirit would predict that somebody would be killed within eleven months beats imagination.

When the suggestion that the National Media Commission (NMC) or even the Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA) be bestowed with biting powers, we are tempted to want to concur with it. Of course yes, when the likes of the man who was invited by the CID yesterday and who said he was possessed by the Holy Spirit can say what they want anytime they feel like doing so.

To describe the IGP, the CID boss and even the President in the kind of language he used for which he was invited by the law enforcement agency, is a sad reflection of how the freedom of expression is being abused in the country.

Recalling the record of this man who used similar or even worse words on the immediate past Chief Justice, is enough to want us to have him educated about decency in the use of language through the appropriate sanction.

If he is not restrained, he would pose a threat to our democracy in the countdown to the next elections. Mark our words.