Portia Solomon Gabor, the Ghana Journalists Association's (GJA) Journalist of the Year 2021, has provided profound insight to students of the School of Communication and Media Studies (SCMS), University of Education, Winneba (UEW), on achieving excellence in journalism.
The TV3 Network News Anchor illustrated outstanding journalism with some of her news reports that dealt with real issues.
This was at a day’s seminar on "Pursuing Excellence in Journalism," where she was featured as the main speaker. The seminar was organised by the Department of Journalism and Media Studies (JMS), UEW-SCMS, at the North Campus Mini-Conference Room, UEW, on Thursday, 2nd March, 2023.
Portia Solomon Gabor
She described how she was able to raise GH₵ 164,000.00 to help a 39-year-old teacher who had been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm to undergo surgery. She also shared some of her work on the COVID-19 critical care unit, the love stories of albinos, and other touching stories.
"We do appreciate that there are people elected to do these tasks and to help the less privileged in society. But those elected to fix the challenges confronting the country are unable to address them. Therefore, the people have an ally in the media. As journalists, our core roles of informing, educating, and entertaining the public are evolving. We are now required to take it a notch higher to pursue impactful journalism. Journalism that will bring development to our communities and help the less privileged in society," she stressed.
Portia Gabor was clear in her mind that there is no such thing as voiceless people. She explained that everyone has a voice, only that some have very bold and loud voices, while others manage with just small voices that do not reach far, hence the need for journalists to step in to amplify the voices of those whose voices are not loud enough.
SCMS faculty members and students at the seminar
"Therefore we serve as a microphone or a megaphone to amplify the voice of the less privileged, who also expect to see an improvement in the quality of their lives. Impact now is not measured by the number of views of the viral news story on social media or the number of subscriptions or clicks to a news story because behind the views and viral news story are real people with real problems who are concerned about their healthcare needs, the economy, education, among others. These are people who want real change in society," she affirmed.
Portia Gabor, alluding to a popular refrain by the late Kofi Annan, "one is never too old to learn or too young to lead," expressed optimism in a brighter future for journalism with the SCMS students, as they represent the next face of journalism and the country.
"Excellence is a journey and not a destination; excellence is in the rehearsal; excellence is in the preparation. It took me 15 years to become the journalist of the year. It did not happen in year one; it did not happen in year two. I did not give up. As you are climbing the mountain, remember to enjoy the journey, and when you get to the top of the mountain, you realise there are more mountains to climb. Therefore, it’s a journey, not a destination. Let’s make a difference in this world, one journalist at a time," she stated.
Dr. Gifty Appiah-Adjei
The Head of Department (HoD), JMS, Dr. Gifty Appiah-Adjei, observed that, with technology, citizen journalists could fill the function of journalists. This, she argued, has occasionally caused public misinformation with a detrimental impact on journalism as a profession. She stated that the seminar was held to encourage students to value the pursuit of greatness in both their academic and professional endeavours.
"You’ll agree with me that some people just put together any content and disseminate it, and so, as a result of that, there’s information disorder and disinformation. This phenomenon is undermining journalism because it is difficult for people to distinguish between professional journalist work and citizen journalism. Therefore, even when ordinary people send disinformation, the blame falls on the journalists, and as a result, people don’t appreciate the essence of journalism in our world today," she said.
The seminar was graced by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of UEW, Prof. Andy Ofori-Birikorang; HoD for Communication Instruction, Prof. Christiana Hammond; HoD for Development Communication, Mr. Kwesi Aggrey; HoD for Strategic Communication, Dr. Mavis Amo-Mensah; and the following lecturers, Ms. Abena Abokoma Asemanyi, Ms. Akosua Asantewaa Anane, Ms. Yvonne Dedzo, Ms. Korkor Watson, Ms. Elizabeth Asiamah, Mr. Bismark Sackey, Mr. Rainbow Sackey, Mr. Stephen Akyiaw and Ms. Belinda Osei-Mensah.
Faculty members pose for a group picture with the main speaker of the seminar