Monday, August 23, 2010

Metro TV reporter is Journalist of the year

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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday August 23, 2010
A reporter from Metropolitan Television, Samuel Agyemang defied all odds to become the youngest journalist ever to win the coveted Journalists of the of the Year award for 2009.

For his prize, Mr. Agyemang, 29, received a professional enhancement package of $28,000 equivalent to GHC42, 000 from Unilever Ghana Limited as well as a visit to the International Centre for Journalist (ICFJ) in Washington DC in the United States to have attachments at some renowned media houses, depending on his area of specialty.

It was all excitement at the Banquet Hall, State House in Accra, as the GJA celebrated its 15th awards night under the theme “Unethical journalism and corruption in the media: A danger to democracy.”

Journalists who thronged the venue had the opportunity to celebrate the night with Vice President John Dramani Mahama, Aidan White of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and a host of other dignitaries. They were treated to sumptuous music by Abrantie Amakye Dede and his Apollo High Kings band.

In all, 33 awards were given to journalists and some media houses while five individuals who have contributed in the flourishing of the media landscape including Mr. Aidan White were given honorary awards.

Two journalists and the famous crack cartoonist, Akosua of Daily Guide and Business Guide picked three awards at the ceremony night.

This was an improvement over last year’s awards when the leading private newspaper in the country and number two on the sales market picked an award for best design newspaper.

The journalists are Emelia Ennin and Esther Awuah who collected a plaque and citations for being the best journalists in Environment and Small and Micro Scale Enterprises, respectively were among 33 others who were honoured at the wards night.

Akosua the unsurpassed satirist cartoonist picked the newly instituted award for cartoon, sponsored by the renowned industrialist, Akenten Appiah-Menka of Apino soap fame.

In addition each award winner will receive a laptop computer.
The award winners included: News Reporting TV – Portia Solomon (TV3), News Reporting Print – Francis Tuffour (Ghanaian Times), News Reporting (Radio) – Evans Mensah (Joy FM), Features (Radio)-Kingsley Obeng Kyere (GBC), Features (TV) – Samuel Agyemang (Metro TV), Features (Print) – Doreen Allotey (Daily Graphic) and Investigative Reporting - Peter Dela Tenge (Metro TV).

Others were: Sports Reporting – Maurice Quansah – (Daily Graphic), Arts, Entertainment and Domestic Tourism - Kofi Akpabli – Freelance, Photo Journalism – Gabriel Ahiabor (Daily Graphic), Business, Finance and Economic Reporting – Edward Nyarko (GTV), Small and Micro Scale Enterprises, Health Reporting – Lucy Adoma Yeboah – (Daily Graphic), HIV/AIDS Reporting – Gertrude Anka – (Ghanaian Observer), Development Journalism for advancing MDGs - Portia Solomon - (TV3) and Rural Reporting – Samuel Akapule – (GNA)

The rest were: Crime and Court Reporting – Kingsley Hope - (Ghanaian Times), Hygiene and Sanitation – Dzifa Azumah (GNA), Disability Reporting – Issah Shaibu – (GBC), Telecommunications – Samuel Dowuona (GNA), Anti-Corruption – Anas Aremeyaw Anas (New Crusading Guide), Education - Isabella Owusu-Oppong – (GTV), Features – Vicky Wirekoh Andoh – (Daily Graphic), Cartoonist – Akosua – (Daily Guide), Best Layout and Design newspaper – (Daily Graphic), Best Rural Radio Station – (Radio Peace -Winneba), Human Rights - Sunrise Radio (Koforidua), Democracy and Peace – (Citi FM), Best Radio Programme in Akan – Wo haw ne sen (Peace FM), Best Radio Programme in Dagbani – (Diamond FM, Tamale) and Best Radio Programme (Talk) - Kusum Gboo Obonu FM.

Vice President Mahama who stood in for President John Evans Atta Mills as the guest of honour commended the GJA for recognizing that there are still unethical practices and corruption in the media.

“The fact that the GJA has chosen this theme means that the media is willing to be accountable to the people with whom the ultimate power rests,” he said.

He cited misreporting, poor language, mercenary journalism and lack of objectivity as some of the challenges that the media needed to overcome and added that there was the need for journalists to close their ranks and weed out charlatans from among them.

The Vice President also complained about the rate at which the media displayed photographs of dead persons and others he considered obscene and also noted that the serial calling phenomenon was making it impossible for the public to judge what he called “real public opinion.”

“If we want to purge our journalism of the negative tendencies then we must be able to discuss issues affecting the profession. So much is expected from the media. Our work should be fair, credible and responsible.”

He also bemoaned what he called “partisanship in our public discourse,” adding “everything in this country is interpreted based on our political prejudices.”
Vice President Mahama said the media has been in the forefront of fighting for media freedom and urged the media to continue to hold public office holders accountable.

Aidan White who chaired the ceremony admitted that journalism was facing enormous challenges, saying “journalism is in profound crises”.

He said the media needed to reassess itself if it wants to continue to fight for democracy and development and added “the media has to set the highest standard of accountability and transparency. If journalists are corrupt democracy is fatally flawed.”

“We need to lead the struggle for tolerance, give equal voice to majority and minority as well as expose corruption especially in high places”.

The Minister of Information, John Tia Akologu said it was refreshing that the GJA has realized that unethical journalism has gone beyond what he called “perception stage” and said the time has come for journalists to name and shame errant colleagues.

He said the journalists cannot say that the GJA Code of Ethics has achieved its usefulness and said writing unethically has become the order of the day.

Kabral Blay-Amihere, Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC) said the GJA showed humility and courage in selecting the theme for the ceremony and said “in recent months there has been assault on press freedom.”

He called on the government to empower the commission with funds so that it will be able to promote freedom of expression and also ensure a free and responsible press.

Oumar Farouk, President of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) called for improved condition of service for journalists in order to make them immune from corrupt tendencies.

Ransford Tetteh, President of the GJA said by promoting excellence in Ghanaian journalism “we are helping to further consolidate freedom of the press in Ghana and to get the Ghanaian media to remain the toast of lovers of democracy across the world.”

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