Another journalist, Wilson Parker of the Multimedia Group Limited, has been assaulted in the line of his duty. This time, by a bodyguard in former President Mahama’s campaign team. Apologies have been issued, but are they enough? Definitely not. I have lost count of the number of times journalists have been violently attacked for simply doing their work.
For how long would journalists be assaulted on the job while perpetrators walk about freely? The police officers that attacked another multimedia journalist, Latif Iddris, are yet to be identified and dealt with.
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) as usual has issued a statement condemning the attack. Journalists are up in arms but as happened in the previous cases, this one too shall pass without any prosecution and conviction of the culprits. I stand to be corrected but I don’t see how things would be any different.
I have been reporting from the courts for the past 15 years and have never been physically assaulted. Why? I am not a superwoman but I have managed to operate STRATEGICALLY despite occasional challenges.
My secret is simple: I always try to stay out of harm’s way. If I am entering a courtroom and I encounter an aggressive security officer, I don’t waste my time to argue. I stay off and make the necessary calls to the appropriate authorities to remove hindrances in my way or that of my colleagues.
I will never force myself into an assignment. If you invite my media house and you position hostile security persons at the entrance, I just walk off and inform my bosses thereof.
See, it does not pay to get injured in the line of duty in a country where workers are hardly insured against risks.
Dear media practitioners, please back off and stay at a safe distance when you find yourselves in a hostile environment. Observe from afar and take down mental notes when bringing out a pen, recorder or camera would endanger your life.
To the cameramen and photojournalists, please insist on being equipped with cameras with high tech lenses that can capture images from afar.
It is risky to draw closer to hostile scenes.
Employers must endeavour to equip their employees with tools that would protect them from harm’s way. I’m sure employers need their employees alive to continuously produce news.
Dear journalists, it is groundless to lose your life in an assignment. You will be the news instead of covering the news. You will be forgotten immediately after your burial.
Take control of your life. Be alert for any form of danger, especially those you can protect yourselves against.
Observe protocols when need be. It’s needless to argue at the slightest hindrance. You must know when to pause and restrategise.
There is no point dying a foolish death. You will be replaced when you die. Be wise. Enjoy your profession but stay safe.
By Mabel Aku Baneseh