The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has urged the leadership of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to be persistent in dealing with challenges in the media, particularly practitioners.
He mentioned some areas of concern where the association must pay attention, including understanding and finding reasons very few journalists were members of the GJA, the welfare and economic well-being of journalists, attacks on journalists, continually building the capacity of journalists and also preserving the quality of and respect for journalism.
"It is my fervent hope that if you keep an eye on some of these areas, while you tackle the many things that you campaigned on, your tenure will go down in the annals of the GJA as one that helped to rebuild the image of the media fraternity," he said.
The minister was speaking at the opening of a three-day retreat of the GJA National Executive at Obosomase, near Aburi in the Eastern Region, last Friday.
It was on the theme: "Building legacies in welfare, professionalism and rebranding to reposition the GJA for a better future".
The retreat is expected to be held twice every year.
“Your election and the speed with which you have started work should give all of us cause to believe once again that we can build a great GJA, moving forward,” Mr Nkrumah said.
Challenges not over
The minister said the challenges might not be fully over and so the resolve of the leadership to rebuild and reposition the GJA should not be over.
He said journalism and the GJA had long had an important role in the life of the nation.
“Even before independence, the burgeoning media industry was the major contributor in advancing the cause of self-determination and building the new nation states that we were thinking about,” he stated.
“Over the years, as our economy and governance have grown, our media outlets have also increased, bringing with it more outlets, more journalists and more works of journalism,” he recounted.
The event was also graced by the Vice-Chancellor of the Wisconsin International University College, Dr Paul Kofi Fynn, who also chaired the opening ceremony, and the Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission, George Sarpong.
Others included a former President of the GJA, Ransford Tetteh; the President of the Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG), Edwin Arthur; the President of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), Cecil Sunkwa-Mills, and the Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt, all of who gave solidarity messages.
The President of the GJA, Albert Kwabena Dwumfour, said the retreat would afford the executive the opportunity to brainstorm on some critical issues that his administration was hoping to address, particularly journalists’ welfare and press freedom.
He said the strategies the association would put in place would include the establishment of a Journalist Support Fund to cater for the emotional and psychological needs of media practitioners.
In addition, Mr Dwumfour said, the association would emphasise professional development by embarking on a media development agenda.
The GJA President mentioned his displeasure with the remuneration of media practitioners, saying it was sad most of them did not receive any form of incentives or compensation in the form of wages and salaries.
In that regard, he said the new executive had begun moves aimed at collaborating with "media owners in the country to institute a credible and sustainable salary regime for all journalists”.
He added that the executive intended to review the constitution of the association "to inject discipline into our scheme of affairs and safeguard the rights of all media practitioners in the country".
The GJA President, who is also the Group Corporate Affairs Manager of the Atinka Media Group, disclosed that a seven-member awards review committee had been set up to improve on the quality and competitiveness of the GJA Awards.
"As we embark on this transformation and rebuilding agenda, it is important to indicate to all our members across the country that the newly elected executive cannot do this alone. As such, it is important for all hands to be on deck to lend us your support to ensure the success of this laudable vision," Mr Dwumfour said.