Make safety, health priority – Journalists told

Make safety, health priority – Journalists told

Mr Motey addressing the media

A former Vice Chairman of the Tema Regional Branch of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr Ian Motey, has urged journalists not to be over-zealous in their quest to gather facts for stories.

He said in their bid to get stories, it was important for the journalists to make conscious efforts to make their safety and security a priority.

Mr Motey, an Assistant Editor with The Ghanaian Times, the sister newspaper of the The Spectator, gave the advice at a media training programme on Wednesday.

He lectured on the topic ‘Ensuring safety of media personnel on the field.’

According to the experienced Journalist, using observational skills was one of the ways by which media personnel can protect themselves and lessen exposure to the public in the course of duty.

Observational skills are qualities and proficiencies that relate to a person’s ability to use one or more of their senses to acknowledge, analyse, understand and recall their surroundings and the elements within it.

According to him, the use of such skills would not draw unnecessary attention and if effectively used, those around would not notice the presence of a journalist covering an event.

“In coverage for riots and demonstrations, journalists must be more observant in order not to get exposed. If possible, don’t expose yourself at all. Sometimes you don’t even have to let people know that you are a journalist. You even have to hide your tags on some occasions,” he advised.

He said occasionally, the journalist can leave a crowded area to a secluded place to write a few points and quickly come back so that he/she would not draw unnecessary attention to him or herself.

Mr Motey said a media person on the field must also avoid making comments for or against any group or individual during an event because one could not tell who was listening.

“It’s better to be discreet and also adopt the use of technology so that what the journalist is doing would not be so obvious.

He said that since the courts were also sensitive places to report from, media personnel must ensure that they got the right training to avoid inaccurate reportage to draw disaffection from any of the parties or even the judiciary.

A journalist, he said should not feel embarrassed to contact technical people for advice where some terms were not easily understood.

“It is important to build hard-core evidence so that in case of any suits against journalists, you will be well-placed to put up a defence,” he said and added that, “journalists must take their health and well-being seriously because the demands of the job comes with a lot of stress.”

Media persons, he said sometimes starved themselves, avoided sleep and worked so hard just to ensure they gave the public the best and in the process made a lot of compromises which become detrimental to their health.

Mr Motey called on the media to be fair and firm in their reportage, and be sensitive to issues of national security because according to him, some stories could compromise the peace and security of the country.

“Just because you have access to some information does not necessarily mean you should publish it. You have to be very discerning,” he noted.

From Dzifa Tetteh Tay, Ashaiman

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