Gayheart Mensah, aspiring president of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), has said that he is looking to build a better organized association that will offer a lot more security and protection for the practice of journalism in Ghana.
“The threats directed at journalists for no justifiable reasons must stop. News is a public good, and the dissemination of same is in the public interest. It is not enough for the GJA to be content with issuing press statements after assaults on journalists. There certainly is more that can be done.”
Gayheart Mensah was speaking in Sunyani during a meeting with the GJA members in the Bono East and West regions. He had carried his POWER-UP campaign message to the members there, insisting that the association was “punching far below its weight”.
In order to reduce the physical assaults on members of the association, Gayheart said he will organize a forum which will feature a high-powered participation from National Security, the Police, Military and think-tanks or civil society groups on security and protection. The forum will define an approach that will significantly reduce such attacks by developing a set of Voluntary Principles on Journalism and Security.
“These principles will define the rules of engagement – the dos and don’ts – for both security personnel and journalists, when they encounter each other in their course of work. It could be in a security zone, during a demonstration or at any other event.
“We will create awareness about these principles among our collective membership, and hold each other to these principles. We can even add a sanctions regime for security personnel and journalists who flout these principles. This is a more sustained way to curb the attacks on journalists; not press statements!”
The aspirant also promised to develop better systems, processes and procedures for the running of the Press Centre and make it an attractive destination for media practitioners and their partners. He was of the view that the physical presence and presentation of the Press Centre should see a conscious effort at improvement to help build respect for the association.
Gayheart has been campaigning on the need for the GJA to power up in the areas of professionalism, organization, welfare of members, empowerment and respect for the practice of journalism. He is seen as the candidate that can bring change and dynamism to the association and attract a lot more credibility and integrity for members. His POWER-UP slogan has caught on both among the membership of the GJA and even outside it.