Upper West GJA launches maiden awards scheme for members

The Upper West Regional branch of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has launched its maiden awards scheme to promote journalistic excellence among journalists and media practitioners in the region. The launch of the awards scheme was at a symposium organised by the Upper West Regional GJA in Wa at the weekend to commemorate this year's World Press Freedom Day. Speaking at the launch, Mr Suala Abdul Wahab, the Upper West Regional Chairman of the Association, emphasised the need to recognise the sacrificial works of journalists and other media practitioners in the region to contribute to the development of the nation and the region. 'Many journalists and media practitioners in the region sacrificed their resources, time, and energy, and above all risked their lives in doing stories that brought about development in the region. These journalists are hardly recognised and acknowledged for their good work to motivate them and others to do more,' he explained. Mr Wahab indicated that the annual awards sc heme was to recognise and celebrate journalists and media practitioners who had distinguished themselves in their line of duties and whose stories had impacted positively on society. Speaking to the theme of the World Press Freedom Day: 'A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of the Environmental Crisis,' the GJA Regional Chairman observed that in recent times, there had been some drastic changes in the environment impacting negatively on the social and economic life of the people. He observed that farmers used to predict the rainfall pattern and plan for their farming but that was not the case in recent times due to some human actions and inactions on the environment. He questioned what journalists had done to contribute to addressing the critical developmental challenge of climate change owing to the negative environmental practices. Professor Africanus Lewil Diedong, the Dean of the Faculty of Integrated Development Studies, Simon Diedong Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies (SDD-UBIDS), said despite the gains made in broadening the frontiers of freedom of the press and expression in Ghana, some happenings in the media ecosystem were sources of concern. Prof Diedong stated that the real test of the pluralistic media in Ghana should not be measured merely in terms of numbers but the variety and different divergent, critical, and opposing views within the media space. He questioned the level of media freedom and independence in Ghana following the wanton attacks of media personnel in the country citing the killing of Ahmed Suale of Tiger Eye PI as an example. 'With the emerging incidence of assaults on journalists and some media houses, coupled with the yet-to-be-unravelled mysterious killing of Ahmed Suale of Tiger Eye PI, can journalists in Ghana actually boast of a free, safe and conducive environment for the performance of their duties,' Prof Lewil asked. He observed that people in rural and deprived communities in Ghana could hardly access media for information in an era where interaction between the government and the citizens had gone beyond the traditional spaces to encompass virtual spaces in unprecedented ways. Source: Ghana News Agency