About The Awards
The Ghana Journalists Association Awards 2019
One of the cardinal principles of the Ghana Journalists Association is “to promote the attainment of high professional standards, integrity and media accountability”. Under Article Three of its Constitution on the Aims and Objectives, the Association is required to among other things “Promote professionalism and high journalistic standards and reward and honour outstanding members periodically”.
The Association which was founded in August 1949 held its first award ceremony in December 1985 during the Presidency of the late Edwin Tengey. He was ably supported by members of his executive; the late Henry Addison, his vice, Kabral Blay-Amihere, General Secretary, Shaw Quaye Adibi, Deputy General Secretary, George Sackey and Godwin Avenorgbo, who were Executive Members. They were assisted by Mr. Tom Dorkenoo who was then the Greater Accra Regional Chairman.
There were no sponsors for that event. The GJA had to depend solely on its own internally generated resources. The only donation to the Association was a stool and a kente cloth as part of the prizes. It came from Nana Kwame Korang, Omanhene of Awuah Odumase in the Brong-Ahafo Region. However, the first ever GJA Awards Planning Committee braved all odds to organise the maiden competition and event.
That historic ceremony was held at the Arden Hall of the then famous Ambassador Hotel in Accra. It was organised on a very modest scale but was successful by all standards and made quite a significant impact on the development of the media in Ghana. One of the award winners was Ms. Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, who was awarded the John Kugblenu Prize for Valour – the first and only GJA award of its kind. (That same month Ms Yeboah-Afari was voted Africa Columnist of the Year by listeners of the BBC programme, ‘Network Africa’.)
At this time, the GJA Awards ceremony had become the flagship event on the Ghanaian media calendar. In 1986, the competition was organised not by the GJA, but by the Ministry of Information. It did that intermittently until 1991 when under the Presidency of Mr. Kabral Blay-Amihere the Association took over as “rightful hosts” with a ceremony in 1992. The 1993 ceremony was held at the Sunrise Hotel in Accra, while the Labadi Beach Hotel hosted the ceremony for two successive years with sponsorship by M-NET
The Accra International Conference Centre became the venue from 1996 – 2000. M-NET, Guinness Ghana Limited now Guinness Ghana Breweries Limited /Unilever and the United States Media NGO, Freedom Forum took turns to be main sponsors respectively.
Although the awards had by that time assumed the character of an annual event with high expectation among members, it was becoming difficult to find sponsorship. This was making it difficult to hold the event on an annual basis. The then National Consultative Committee (NCC) of the GJA in 2001, upon reflection and by consensus decided to make the event a biennial one.
The first biennial Awards ceremony took place in 2002. However, due mainly to financial and administrative pressures that the then National Executive were suffering, through the mobilization of resources for the construction of the Ghana International Press Centre project, the event could not take place.
However, after the completion and subsequent inauguration of the first phase of the Ghana International Press Centre project, the Awards ceremony resumed in 2003. Entries for the then 10th Awards considered works covering a two year period, 2000 – 2002. It was sponsored by the UNDP through the National Governance Programme (NGP). The venue was the Banquet Hall of the State House.
Unfortunately, that event was dogged by some controversy. However, on 12th September 2003, an extraordinary congress of the Association resolved the issue amicably. There has since been a steady increase in entries for the awards. That for the 14th edition attracted a record 201 entries.
The Journalist of the Year, the flagship award of the competition is given to the person who consistently shows throughout the year under review to have accumulated a body of journalistic work that the Association can be proud of as exemplary for the profession and the practice of journalism in Ghana.
The award is given annually to the journalist who has consistently shown throughout the year under review to have accumulated a body of journalistic work that the Association can be proud of as exemplary for the profession and the practice of journalism in Ghana.
The award winner and the work being awarded should even if surrounded by controversy, be defensible by the executives of the GJA based on sound journalistic standards and ethical principles. In addition to applying the basic journalistic standards of accuracy, balance, relevance, background, social impact, ethical standards and language presentation, the individual awarded the Journalist of the Year is subjected to a higher standard of excellence in reporting and writing and in a show of professionalism.
Through the Journalist of the Year award, the Association seeks to show recognition for and the need to ignite pride and promote excellence in journalism in the country. Preferably, the winner of that award should be someone who the public and the Association can acknowledge for exemplary journalistic work produced during the year under review.
Each year, in addition to entries submitted by individual journalists, the Association actively seeks for nominations by the public. However, if, during a particular year, no individual is considered to be satisfactory in meeting the high journalistic standards, the Journalist of the Year Award is withheld. That has happened on a few occasions.
An adage says that “every society gets the media it deserves”. Every society thus has a stake in the development of its media. An independent, impartial and responsible media is a necessity for overall national development and a vibrant and sustainable democratic culture. Civil society cannot afford to stand aloof in the process of nurturing a vibrant and responsible media. Through their criticisms and encouragement, they help to promote media accountability and excellence. Supporting the GJA Awards is certainly an effective way for individuals and organisations to contribute in practical and more direct terms towards the promotion of high journalistic standards.
- Promote professionalism and high journalistic standards
- Promote and strengthen the contribution of the Association and its members to democracy and good governance
- Protect and strengthen the rights of members
- Respect and defend freedom of expression, pluralism of the media and universal access to information
- Put in place mechanisms to co-ordinate actions towards ensuring the safety of members in the performance of their professional duties
- Promote good relations with local and international communication training institutions, media establishments, governmental and non-governmental organisations in furtherance of the Association’s objectives
- Work towards improving the conditions of service of members
- Promote media accountability and self-regulation
- Strive to provide legal protection and moral support for members where necessary
- Reward and honour outstanding members periodically
- Maintain a permanent secretariat to run the affairs of the Association and
- Undertake any other activities that promote the interest of the Association