There is a seeming tension brewing between President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and some national executives of the Association over the choice of theme for this year’s GJA media awards.
Mr. Affail Monney is said to be pushing his own agenda through the use of themes, which some of the executives say, are not urgently in the interest of journalists but the President appears unyielding.
He was said to have suo moto proposed a theme on sanitation two months ago, which the Vice President Linda Asante Agyei and General Secretary Kofi Yeboah, kicked against it and suggested assault on journalists versus press freedom as the theme.
After Kofi Yeboah had lectured Mr. Monney on why it will not be necessary and compelling to have the awards theme around sanitation, but rather choose something on attack on journalists and press freedom, the President agreed.
The National Organiser also agreed to the new proposed theme. The Treasurer and Public Affairs Officer were however not available and were to be briefed on the proposed theme at National Executive meeting for consideration and adoption.
Meanwhile, Mr. Monney then commissioned Mr. Yeboah to draft a proposal on the theme ‘attacks on journalists and press freedom’ which he put together.
However, before the new proposed theme could be presented to the entire national executive for consideration, it was changed again by Mr. Monney at the blind side of the General Secretary, the Vice President and the National Organiser.
This time, Mr. Monney had changed the theme to the “State of investigative journalist: the boundaries of privacy and the public interest”.
The development which angered the General Secretary, causing him to write to the National Council of the GJA over what he said could “hurt the organization of the Awards and cause terrible disengagement in the rail of unity”.
“There is no consensus on the proposed theme on investigative journalism,” Mr. Yeboah stated in the letter dated August 20, a copy of which has been sighted by 3news.com.
He noted that apart from the President, the National Organiser and General Secretary support a theme on attack against journalists and press freedom.
“The rest of National Executive members have been silent on the matter since discussion began on it on our WhatsApp platform last Saturday. But given my knowledge of Vice President’s opinion, I am inclined to believe she also supports a theme on attack against journalists and press freedom,” he stated in the letter.
Mr. Yeboah stated Affail Monney has failed to answer his question on the basis for choosing a theme on investigative journalism 48 hours after his inquiry.
In his view, “there is a very compelling reason to choose a theme on assault against journalists and press freedom”.
He grounded his argument on the fact that assault against journalists has been so rampant in recent times and “it doesn’t look like the impunity will end now. That is very scary! I don’t know who may be the next victim – it could be any of us”.
Again, Mr. Yeboah noted assault against journalists is the reason the GJA has had to issue copious press releases in recent times, stating he has had to have “sleepless nights in drafting such press releases.
“Furthermore, assault against journalists is the reason the GJA boycotted a workshop organized by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and the police. It is also the reason the GJA is working towards establishing a Legal Team to address such cases.
“So it is clear we have identified assault against journalists as our biggest enemy. Why launch an assault on a nonentity target and waste our gunfire in the process when we have a rare opportunity to make the boldest statement on the matter to state authorities?” he asked in the letter.
The General secretary said the last press conference the GJA held on the assault on the Multimedia journalist Latif , the Association revealed it was going to petition President Akufo-Addo on the manner the police was handling his case.
Thus, “If the President or his representative is attending the [GJA] Awards ceremony, is it not a fine opportunity to present our case to him?” he queried.
He said it will be “most unfortunate if we fail to seize such a fine opportunity to address a matter that is threatening to kill journalists and journalism in Ghana”.
He advised that the GJA makes a choice “to stop the impunity” of assault on journalists instead “entrapping the GJA in controversy”.
Accordingly, he has asked the National Council of the GJA to urgently intervene in the matter to avoid creating disunity.