I have read for the umpteenth time a story captured on Ghanaweb in which the popular Television Personality, Bridget Ottoo, has described the degree she received from the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) as “rubbish” and “crap”.
It is funny on one side and a shame on the other for Bridget to make such loose statements about her alma matter and mine too. Bridget has no locus to describe the degree she was awarded as crap.
In the story, Bridget is quoted saying, “I left GIJ and I couldn’t even write a single report so the certificate was rubbish. I learnt on the job when I started to write and learned to tell a story. I learnt to be on camera, I learnt but yet I had a degree in Journalism. A degree in Communication Studies so that foundation is crap”.
Eeeiii, Sister Bridget, which of the GIJ’s did you attend? Is it the same GIJ that Kafui Dey, who has over 25 years experience as a broadcaster and now hosts GTVs Breakfast show attended? Is it the same GIJ that the veteran television personality and longest-serving show host in Ghana, Ohenere Gifty Anti attended?
Wait oo Bridget, are you referring to the same GIJ that I dreamt of in 2008, got admission to three times, started in 2017 and just finished my first degree in? C’mon my senior sister, come on. You can do better than this.
First of all, let me establish that the insinuation made in the quote that GIJ did not do a good job at training you (Bridget) and equipping you for the job market is an utter falsehood. The very idea that GIJ does not embed all the necessary disciplines and competencies of the Journalism profession in those who pass through the institute is absolute balderdash.
The Ghana Institute of Journalism has one of the best, if not the best, curricula for training journalists, not only in Ghana but in the West African Subregion. There is no denying the fact that many have touted GIJ as the best journalism school in the subregion.
Something that can be verified though is the fact that lecturers in GIJ are scholars in their fields and have many years of practice and so, they deliver lessons from an industry-specific perspective. The likes of Dr James Asante, Dr Etse Sikanku, Dr Lawrencia Agyapong, Dr Bernedine Azanu, Dr Kwodwo Ansong, Mr Tindi and many of the lecturers who are still in GIJ, many of who I believe taught you (Bridget), are recognised the world over and have been doing this work for God knows how long.
These lecturers, amidst all the glaring challenges GIJ has faced over the years, have tried everything humanly possible to make lessons as practicable as can be. Students have been given many assignments to cover news stories, produce broadcast shows, convert speeches and press statements into news and produce advertising items like posters and even organise events.
To add to that, it has been a tradition since Radio GIJ was established that, at least, once in every student’s lifetime in GIJ, they must engage in radio production for one whole semester. I don’t know which time period you (Bridget) went through GIJ, because that information is not available online, but I dare say this system was available in your time as it was way before I entered GIJ.
Furthermore, let it be clear to all that if you (Bridget) finished GIJ still lacking the ability to write a simple news report, then only you can take the blame for that. The Institute is not to be blamed for your inability to take advantage of the opportunities made available to all students of the Institute.
GIJ doesn’t teach students under trees, does it? GIJ doesn’t allow lazy lecturers to fester, does it? GIJ doesn’t condone tardiness from students, does it?
Even if these were the case, GIJ still makes concerted efforts at ensuring students imbibe the right skills and competencies for the journalism field. This is ensured through the courses provided for students in the institute.
Take a degree student, for instance, in the first year, GIJ offers you Language and Study Skills and English Language Usage to set you on the right path to writing. In the second year, the Institute introduces you to Print News and Broadcast News Writing in addition to Introduction to Journalism. In the third year, students learn to write for local areas in Community Journalism and study investigative reporting in In-Depth Journalism. Students also learn to write online in New Media and the new kid on the block, Journalistic Editing. The final year brings students face to face with Television and Radio News Production and Presentation. Even now, writing for entertainment has been introduced in a course called Journalism and the Arts.
There are too many courses I have not mentioned here and I have intentionally skipped those of the Public Relations students because Bridget is a broadcaster. But, even with these few, there is enough to state emphatically that except a student has learning disabilities, which can be keenly looked at, anyone who passes through GIJ not knowing, at least, how to write a simple news report, cannot blame GIJ.
On this premise, Dear Bridget Ottoo, you should bow your head in shame. You should bow your head in shame because you attempt to blame GIJ for your shortfalls. You should bow your head in shame because you call ‘rubbish’ a certificate that you ominously quote on your CV and allow to be quoted in many articles written about you. You should bow your head in shame because the fact that you came out of GIJ unable to write a news story does not give you locus to bastardize the institute that was established by the first president of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, and which has produced many of the best journalists in this country and the world over.
I have mentioned some of the products of GIJ in earlier parts of this article. If they are not glaring enough, let me remind you that Anas Aremeyaw Anas, Manasseh Azure and Umaru Sanda Amadu were all once students of the same GIJ which gave you the foundations that you describe today as ‘scrap’.
Interestingly, though you finished GIJ, me too, as early in GIJ level 100, I was writing reports for media houses. I was writing speeches for ministers way back in level 100 second semester. I owned a blog and honed my writing skills. So, I believe that the problem is not GIJ. Though the Institute has a myriad of challenges, the problem is you.
It is okay to learn on the job. Even graduates of Ashesi, Harvard and UG, Legon, in all fields, Journalism not exclusive, learn on the job. If you learn on the job, it doesn’t nullify GIJ’s contributions to your career and current state.
In ending, dear Bridget, you can rise without pushing others down. Your light can shine without you putting out that of others. Your career will not be any less successful if you paid GIJ its due.
And, unless you expected GIJ lecturers to hold your hand with the pen and help you write as kindergarten teachers do for their pupils, don’t insinuate that GIJ didn’t help you reach where you are now. If anything, propose ways to make GIJ better and stop the sordid attempt to devalue what took years to create.
I end in readiness to have a stage with you to further this debate you have begun.
A Proud Product of GIJ.
The writer, Efo Korku Mawutor is a graduate of the Ghana Institute of Journalism.