The 16th Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Awards ceremony held at the Banquet Hall, State House in Accra on Friday, September 9, 2011, failed to pass the test of excellence and honesty in many respects.
Apart from the poor organization of the event, there were many critical issues that smack of dishonesty, and to a large extent, corruption. I wish to articulate hereunder a few of the issues that have come to my attention and hope you will publish them in order to get answers and cure the wrongs in the system.
The first issue that ought to be addressed is about money raised for the organization of last Friday’s event. Almost everything was sponsored, including the venue, laptops given to award winners, drinks and many more. The only things not sponsored were, perhaps, allowances given to award committee members, plaques given to award winners, food and protocol service.
So the question is what does the GJA executive use all the huge amount of money they receive as sponsorship packages for? Why is it that in spite of the huge cash sponsorship, award winners are not given a pesewa, even when sponsors make cash donations for winners of specific award categories?
I think there is the need for the GJA executive to account for the organization of the awards ceremony. It’s not clear whether accounts were rendered for previous award ceremonies (I stand to be corrected).
The second issue has to do with how an award category for the best reporter on social security was smuggled into the event. To the best of my knowledge, social security reporting was NOT part of the award categories announced by the GJA, when it opened entries earlier in the year, (you may want to refer to media publications on the announcement for filing of entries).
Indeed, just about two months ago, and long after entries for the 2010 GJA Awards had been closed, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) announced (published in the media) that it would sponsor a GJA Award category on social security reporting for next year. The understanding is that journalists who cover the social security issues this year will have their stories accessed for the GJA Awards in 2012.
So how come an award was given to someone in that category last Friday. It was no wonder that the citation accompanying that award did not cite a specific story that the award winning journalist did, that earned him that grand title just as in the case of all the other categories.
The citation just made reference to the fact that the award winning journalist had been doing follow-up stories on social security.
If SSNIT wanted to show appreciation to a reporter who covers the social security beat,
Management could have simply called the reporter to the SSNIT headquarters to do that, and not to use a GJA platform for the celebration of journalism excellence for that purpose.
The fact that the social security award category was not opened for all to contest was very unfair, and indeed, corruption to allow anyone to carry a GJA plaque and title for that. The GJA must come clean on this.
Another award category that smacks of dishonesty is how someone was adjudged the best reporter for sports, but when everything was done and the list of award winners collated, that award winner was deprived of his hard earned prize, under very strange and inexplicable reasons. How could the GJA on one hand give award to a journalist for a category that was not opened for competition, and on the other hand, deprive another who genuinely won a competitive category. Is that how GJA celebrates journalism excellence?
The third issue that reeks of dishonesty regarding the awards is about the education category. How can one award be given to two different winners. Wherein then lies competition and excellence? Excellence requires that although many reporters might have submitted very good stories, only one of them is adjudged the best.
Consider this scenario. Five persons work on just one story, and one person works on another story. Now, the two stories are considered to be very good but only one must emerge as the best. Surely, to give the award to the person who worked alone, rather than make it a joint award with five other reporters, is a logic that is not far-fetched. Why then should that reporter have to share the prize with a whole team of reporters? Favouritism?
It will also be very interesting to find out from the GJA why the Government Statistician, Dr Grace Bediako used the platform of the 15th GJA Awards ceremony last year to announce that the Ghana Statistical Service would give two awards for the best journalist and media organization that performed most creditably in the coverage of the 2010 Population and Housing Census, and yet nothing of the sort took place. The GJA must explain.
The intention to raise these issues is not to call the integrity of the GJA executive to question, rather it is to ensure that the GJA Awards remain a celebration of journalism excellence and not dishonesty.
Source: Thomas Tetteh (Freelance journalist)/The Chronicle
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