Even though the media is referred to as the Fourth Estate of the Realm, low remuneration remains one of the major challenges facing Ghanaian journalists
Salary differentials that exist between the ‘first, second and third arms of government,’ that is to say, the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary as compared to the media is upsetting.
The salaries of journalists’ pales into insignificance when compared with allowances, end of service benefits and per diem of all workers in the executive, legislature and judiciary.
Even though journalists face life-threatening challenges in the course of their duty, practitioners are among the lowest-paid employees in Ghana.
The State of the Ghanaian Media Report 2023 produced by the Department of Communication Studies, University of Ghana and the Media Foundation for West Africa (MWFA) has revealed that whereas many journalists earn an average of GH¢500 to GH¢1,000 a month, majority also worked without contracts.
With current exchange rate to the local currency, it means such journalists who are full time employees earn $45 (GH¢500) and $90 (GH¢1,000) a month.
Many Ghanaian journalists also referred to as stringers are not even paid at all.
The current state of remuneration for journalists was precarious and “shockingly low,” which impacted negatively on the quality of stories they produced, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, former Dean of the School of Information and Communication Studies, and Chairperson of CDD-Ghana said.
The situation is more pathetic in most private media houses as some journalists receive less than GH¢500 while others receive no salary at all but are only provided with accreditation to enable them cover events.
Many journalists are also not provided transport so what they receive at the end of events is what they take home as well as cater for their transport fares.
The poor conditions of service make media practitioners susceptible to corruption and inhuman treatment which include ridicule, embarrassment and name-calling.
The act of giving envelopes containing money meant to ‘solidarise’ working relationship between organizers and newsmakers, on one hand, and journalists on the other has become a common practice.
The poor working conditions and indecent salaries journalists receive is a worry and have attracted a lot of comments and suggestions to improve the lot of media workers, especially journalists.
Colleagues who graduated from the same institution of higher learning but working outside the media, receive about ten folds higher than the journalist
Owners and stakeholders in the media establishment need to take a quick critical look at the remuneration of journalists to ensure that professionalism and competence were injected into the profession
Improved living conditions for journalists will help the practitioners take ‘a huge step away from collecting brown envelopes.’
We face a situation where top professionals who should be training the younger ones are leaving whiles charlatans are taking over simply because people are not well paid.
If the issue of good remuneration for journalists is not looked at, the profession will soon be bereft of top-class professionals, a situation likely to undermine the security of the state.
It takes strong committed professionals to withstand the temptation of being bribed.
Being a journalist in this country is more of a sacrifice than anything else
Proliferation and fragmentation of Unions in media houses poses a challenge to consolidated efforts for better working conditions for media workers.
Some media workers were disjointed in the cause for better remunerations.
However, a strong union is needed to make a strong case for members of the media.
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) should either transform into a union or seek its own bargaining certificate.
GJA will face some complex challenges in the efforts of merging the fragmented Unions in the media houses, bargaining especially on behalf of the private media houses that did not have collective bargaining rights or choosing to be independent Trade Union.
Too many journalists these days are employed as freelance or independent workers and are paid in a haphazard manner
When you have a precarious working condition that is an invitation to corruption and financial corruption is one of the most corrosive forms of corruption inside journalism
Falling standards are consequences of poor conditions of service.
When effectively addressed, it will go a long way in promoting best journalistic practices, good governance and socio-economic development of a nation.