Some radio disc jockeys see themselves as journalists in Ghana

By Hilda Yaa Tebuah, Ghana Institute of Journalism

In recent times, the world of journalism has undergone a significant transformation, raising concerns among aspiring journalists about their future prospects. Completing a comprehensive four or two-year course in journalism with dedication and passion, once guaranteed a promising career. However, the current media landscape has witnessed a growing, disheartening trend, whereby celebrities, with little or no background in journalism, are being ‘favoured’ over trained professionals due to their potential to attract a large audience.

This unsettling phenomenon is not unique to any particular region, as even in places like Ghana, media outlets have opted to employ movie actors, actresses, TikTok content creators, and others, as journalists. The primary reason behind this decision seems to be the allure of increased viewership as these celebrities boast of a significant following. Regrettably, this practice undermines the essence of journalism, the profession should not be reduced to mere popularity contest.

For an aspiring journalist, this development can be disconcerting. The fear of diligently completing journalism school only to find their career path obstructed by celebrities-turned-journalists looms large. Such a situation does not only create uncertainty, but, also raises questions about the integrity of the profession and its core values.

One of the most concerning aspects of this trend is that these non-journalist celebrities often lack the essential knowledge and skills required for quality reporting. The nuances of hosting shows, covering issues, and adhering to journalistic ethics are neglected in favour of flashy presentations and sensationalism. This disregard for professional standards does not only undermine journalism field, particularly broadcast journalism, but, also diminishes its significance, leaving the public with a distorted view of what true journalism is.

Authentic journalism thrives on passion, curiosity, research, critical thinking, and adherence to ethical principles. It is a profession that requires craft, authority, dedication, integrity, and a commitment to the truth. By allowing untrained celebrities to take on journalistic roles, media houses risk compromising the essence of this vital practice.

Furthermore, this celebrity-led journalism has contributed to a decline in educative content. The pursuit of ratings and sensationalism often overshadows the necessity of informative and thought-provoking news. Consequently, the media’s role in fostering an informed and engaged society is being compromised.

Aspiring journalists must remain steadfast in their pursuit of truth and maintain their dedication to professional integrity. While the current landscape may appear uncertain, it also presents an opportunity for the next generation of journalists to reclaim the essence of the profession. By remaining true to the core values of journalism, aspiring reporters can restore trust and credibility in the field.

It is essential for media houses to reconsider their hiring practices and prioritize merit, expertise, and passion over sheer popularity. By fostering an environment that values journalistic excellence, media organizations can elevate the standard of reporting and contribute positively to society.

Ultimately, the path of a journalist is one that requires commitment, determination, and a genuine desire to serve the public by providing reliable and informative news. The challenges posed by the influx of celebrities in journalism can be overcome by upholding the principles that define this noble profession. Aspiring journalists must stand firm, united and assert the value they bring to society, ensuring that the spirit of journalism remains untarnished in the face of changing times.