Sir Sam Jonah

Sir Sam Jonah has challenged Ghanaian journalists with a solemn reminder of their critical role in Ghana’s democracy, insisting their duty to uphold truth, independence, and accountability is non-negotiable.

The statesman maintains that the need for objectivity, patriotism, and independence by journalists surpasses the many challenges confronting journalism practice today.

Delivering the keynote address to set the tone for the launch of the 75th Anniversary celebration of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in Accra, Sam Jonah acknowledged the historical significance of the Association’s milestone anniversary, including his personal support for journalism during difficult times, and his unwavering belief in the media’s role in shaping society.

He lamented the increasing polarisation of the media landscape, noting the erosion of neutrality and the rise of partisanship and warned against the influence of political patronage and material rewards, which he argued threaten the independence of the Fourth Estate.

“The once united front of objectivity and patriotism appears, to some, fragmented by the divides of partisanship and the shadows of materialism,” Sam Jonah remarked.

He emphasised the importance of the media’s vigilance, particularly during pivotal moments such as elections.

Drawing on historical examples, Sam Jonah highlighted the sacrifices made by journalists in the pursuit of truth and justice and urged today’s practitioners to uphold the values of integrity and responsibility, also reminding them of the critical role they play in holding power to account.

“Your role as the Fourth Estate is a cornerstone of our democracy, and your duty to hold power to account has never been more critical. The influence you wield is powerful, with the ability to frame political discourse and influence public opinion, making it imperative that this power is exercised with the utmost responsibility and ethical rigor.

“As we move forward, let us remember the sacrifices made by those who came before us, journalists who laid down their lives for the pursuit of truth and justice. It is upon their legacy that the future of Ghanaian journalism will be built—a future where truth prevails over sensationalism, integrity over corruption, and where the pen remains mightier than the sword in the fight for democratic integrity and national unity,” he said.

He also addressed specific challenges facing Ghanaian journalism, including the perceived lack of coverage on pressing issues such as illegal mining (galamsey) and called on journalists to remain steadfast in their pursuit of the truth, regardless of external pressures.

“As we stand on the precipice of yet another electoral milestone, in my view, the most consequential, the echoes of past violence, the whispers of disenfranchisement looms and I don’t think anyone needs reminding that the conduct of the electoral exercise together with its outcome is so important that the nation cannot afford bias and unprofessional coverage of it by members of your profession.

“I wish I could be confident that the coverage will be professional but am afraid I can’t, given the largely unserious way in which another important national issue- the most egregious abuse of the rights of millions whose livelihood has been decimated completely by galamsey operations, has been treated by your profession. I don’t know whether you are exhausted and indeed frustrated by the shameful lack of decisive action from the authorities to your interventions. All I know is that your association’s pen which is your weapon has gone eerily silent on this all important matter,” he stated.

While he regretted that galamsey doesn’t make the headlines anymore, he said “the country is experiencing the ravages of this terrible phenomenon every day. The alarming increase in children born with deformities, the epidemic of kidney and liver diseases, and the alarming mortality rates in the areas affected by galamsey activities” appear not to merit the sustained concern of journalists.

“What a shame, what a pity! As Journalists the times we live in beckon you to remember your purpose, power and your responsibility. The price of the continued silence is too grave to fathom.”

He invoked the timeless message of Ephraim Amu’s composition, “Yen Ara Asase Ni,” and urged journalists to champion patriotism, stewardship, and unity.

Sam Jonah also called on the GJA to uphold the principles of good governance, justice, and accountability, stressing the importance of truth in shaping Ghana’s future.

The GJA celebration is on the theme: “75 years of excellence in Journalism: Past, Present and the Future”.

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