Mr Gayheart Mensah, Presidential Candidate of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has reiterated the need for the revamping of the Association to play the role expected of it in the country’s developmental agenda.
He said: “My ambition is to use my skills acquired over decades from both the private and state institutions to assist the GJA and reposition and transform it in such a way that would make it a more formidable body fighting for the interest of journalist.
“I want to move GJA from the occasional issuance of press statements, we must be an active player in the national developmental field, we are a major stakeholder, therefore, our positions on certain critical national issues must be made known strongly,” Mr Mensah stated.
During interaction with the Ghana News Agency Tema Regional Office, Mr Mensah stressed that as the Fourth Estate of the realm, the GJA needed to be proactive in its activities and ensure that, “we are indeed the fourth estate of the realm, we must push for the standard of journalism to be held high and respected.
He expressed concern that the standards of journalism, stressing that, “it is time for the GJA under my leadership as the President to reinvigorate the profession, through consistent training programmes to ensure that journalists performed in accordance code of ethics and professional standards.”
“The GJA must be able to embolden its members to report on issues objectively irrespective of which political party its members are involved. At the same time, it must support its members to show humility and apologise when they realise they have either misreported an event or have got their facts wrong.
That is one way of making the public have confidence in journalists and the GJA,” he said.
Mr Mensah, who is also the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of KomsKraft Consult, said there was the need to make the GJA more attractive for all in the media space to join.
“Where is that Association that can speak truth to government based on objectivity, based on principles, based on values, based on what we consider to be the overriding interest of the Ghanaian?
“And I say this because there is no profession in this country that has such close interaction with the citizens than a journalist.
On the role of the private media in the national scheme of the GJA, Mr Mensah said the GJA must provide a levelling playing field for both private and state media to work together, “private and state media are not enemies but working together in the interest of state.”
This, he said is essential, given the role of the media in the sustenance of democracy and national development.
“The lifeblood of the media is advertising. For the private media, particularly those in the regions and outside the main cities, it is a tough call for them. There is little to no advertising revenue. Some struggle to break even whilst the majority run at a loss. The proprietors of such media firms continue to operate out of sheer passion: nothing more.”
Mr Mensah noted that organisations concerned about the contribution of private media to the country’s democracy should be interested in how it operates.
“What we do as journalists reflects the state in which our country is. We partner with both the public and private sectors of this country for different courses. Consequently, the government, private sector, donor agencies and multilateral organizations must be interested in the state of the private media,” he said.
If given the nod to head the GJA, Gayheart Mensah has given the assurance to attract the desired attention for the sustenance of private media.
Mr Mensah has pledged that the GJA secretariat, under his leadership, will be organized to improve upon membership services and effectively drive participation in critical national conversations.
The welfare of members of the association, he said, is of great importance to him, for which he outlined a number of initiatives.
Mr Mensah has lectured in Advanced Journalism and Development Journalism at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), worked with the “Ghanaian Times”, “Graphic Showbiz”, and “Daily Graphic” and was the Acting Editor of the “Evening News” about 21 years ago.
He was a pioneering panellist of the Joy FM flagship programme, News File, and a pioneering member of the GTV Breakfast Show programme.