….Says state of Ghanaian Media Report 2023
A former Dean of the School of Information and Communication Studies of the University of Ghana, has stressed the need for journalists and other communicators, to be better remunerated for the professional services they provide which ultimately guide all social forces and sectors of the economy.
Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, noted that, despite the media being continually buffeted by all kinds of forces, most journalists believe that they can exercise their legitimate duties and that the pushback which remains an existential reality, is usually unpredictable.
Giving an overview at the launch of the State of the Ghanaian Media Report 2023 by the Department of Communication Studies in Accra, Prof. Gadzekpo, said the current state of remuneration for journalists is precarious and shockingly low which impacts negatively on the quality of stories they produce.
She challenged media owners to improve the appalling working conditions of journalists.
The report was done in collaboration with the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and it exposes the poor working conditions of many journalists in Ghana.
The average Ghanaian journalist according to the report, earns between GH¢500 and GH¢1,000 monthly, with many owed arrears over the years.
It identified that the Ghanaian media industry, is heavily plagued by saturation, high cost of doing business, dwindling advertising budgets, including capital flight on social media platforms, the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and fast-evolving technological changes to be considered financially healthy.
The research found that most media organisations are under severe financial stress, hence poor recruitment processes that lacked transparency; a major reason for the poor remuneration of media practitioners in the country.
“Too often, media owners are having to step in and rescue their ventures because the latter cannot cover their costs. Sometimes the salary and other things even have to come from the owner. But they’re also doing their best but you realize that, probably, there are several things they are not doing properly. But the serious ones today though they are not making profit they are still able to break even”, the report said.
On the safety of journalists in the country, Prof. Gadzekpo, observed a growing sense of insecurity among journalists in the country, adding that even though the violations are a little bit gendered, male journalists are more at risk of physical attacks.
Prof. Gadzekpo, therefore, recommended the establishment of a regulatory framework to safeguard the well-being and security of journalists indicating that this would prevent political capture of the media and ensure accountability.
Delivering the keynote address, the Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Prof. Amin Alhassan, called for the regulation of media content in the spirit of safeguarding societal values as opposed to the conventional notion of censorship which he says has systematically been undone in the Fourth Republic of Ghana.
He pointed out that the primacy of media regulation in the current constitutional dispensation rests with the National Media Commission, however, alluding to platform transmission fees charged on the electronic media, he said that whilst that albatross could be a downer, it also reveals that a slice of the regulator’s role could escape through the glaring backdoor due to the increasing reliance on the telecoms by broadcasting systems.
He recommended a collaboration of some sort, since the telecos are unavoidably interwoven in the scheme of things. One such involvement which tends to be positive was the expunging of a weaponized media outlet which had implications for the peace and security of the country.
Professor Alhassan also called for a resolute response to the fast-changing media environment, where the new media have become sharper in their manifestations as a double-edged sword. While calling for their excesses to be checked, he said online managers, may pay a fee for aggregated material that is externally sourced.
The Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission, NMC, George Sarpong, stated that the oversight role of the NMC stopped short of regulation of media content, adding that it was an apparent response to public outcry at reckless media reportage.
He commended the Department for a good job and said the report would enable policymakers, media owners, managers, and journalists to undertake measures to improve the media profession.
Mr Sarpong, launched the report together with a former Minister of Communication, Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah, during whose tenure as Communications Minister with his then deputy, former President John Mahama, the communication revolution that allowed and intensified digitalization leading to media plurality from 1998.
The seven-chapter report recommended ways that the media can take to ensure it is financially viable including cost-cutting measures such as working from home and making savings in utility consumption and transport budgets, larger-scale adoptionby media organisations to reduce their costs and increase their financial viability.
The report also recommended that media organisations must also continue to innovate new revenue strategies to reduce their heavy reliance on advertising revenues, a model that is increasingly threatened by the influence of global social media giants.
It also added that an important way to ensure viable media is trust and credibility stating that media organisations must guard their credibility. High editorial standards must be maintained to avoid the risk of serious media evolving into tabloids to garner the attention that generates income.
FINANCIAL VIABILITY OF MEDIA
■ Generally, many media organisations in Ghana are not profitable; they only break even
■ The financial viability of many media organisations in Ghana is threatened.
Media in Ghana are creatively exploring new business models to stay alive; including digitization, conglomeration, events marketing and crowdfunding.
■ Digital technologies are fast-changing media financing models in Ghana.
■ Digital media are now a major source of income in the Ghanaian media.
■ One of the biggest threats to the financial health of the media is industry saturation.
WORKING CONDITIONS IN THE GHANAIAN MEDIA
■ Recruitment into the Ghanaian media is generally untransparent.
■ Many people working in the media do not have contracts.
There are no established structures for promotion in most media organisations; promotion is largely based on ‘whom you know’ and owners’/managers’ whims.
■ Salaries in the media are woefully low. Some employees work long months without pay.
■ Most media employees have no healthcare support
■ Most media organisations do not provide counselling support for employees who experience trauma in the line of work.
MEDIA OWNERSHIP AND REGULATION
■ In Ghana, media pluralism has not necessarily served the public interest, due mainly to concentration of media in a few hands.
■ Media ownership is shrouded in opacity.
■ There is a growing tendency towards media empire-building.
■ Political faces behind broadcast media ownership mean that partisan actors and governments can control public discourse.
■ The NCA has a laissez-faire attitude to questions about transparency in media ownership.
The current regime for broadcast regulation allows considerable power and influence to those whose conduct the media are supposed to check.
SAFETY OF JOURNALISTS
■ There is a growing sense of insecurity among journalists in Ghana
■ Violations of journalists’ safety are quite common in Ghana.
■ Male journalists are more at risk of attacks than females.
■ Investigative journalists are the most at risk of attacks
■ State actors, including political appointees and police are the worst perpetrators of attacks on
■ Journalists feel that law enforcement agencies and the judiciary do little to protect their safety.