Getting a Grasp on Time and Media in Ghana

Muftaw "the Last Man Standing" Mohammed (a.k.a. Mufty) discusses human rights issues with guests on "Know Your Rights"

Without much delay, we were thrown right into our new work environment at Kapital Radio 97.1. Our managers, Mufty and Mark, and our news editor Erastus have ensured that our time, skills and training (in human rights awareness) are fully utilized throughout the summer to further this cross-cultural exchange between jhr and Kapital and to help us attain our goals (both professional and personal). We have been immersed in the exciting realm of news reporting for the 6 p.m. daily broadcast at the station and have been recruited as co-producers  (with our co-workers George and Peter) on Mufty’s Saturday talk-show called “Know Your Rights”.

The typical work day begins with a editorial meeting around 9 a.m. with our news editor Erastus and our colleagues to narrow down and delegate the local stories and their angles.  Shortly after, we set off to interview our relevant sources, never really knowing who we will be able to get a hold of, where exactly we are going or when we will return. As we run around Kumasi and its districts to gather our needed information, we familiarize ourselves with the metropolitan itself, the important offices and ministries and the schedule by which Ghanaian affairs are conducted. The daily workings and interactions in Kumasi are laid-back and happen at a slow-moving pace. One thing you quickly learn as a journalist (either as a foreign or local one) is that you should never expect to have and follow an exact plan. Be flexible with your time, the people you meet and with the arrangements that you have previously made with them. Scheduled appointments may be postponed or go much longer than anticipated, and interruptions during interviews occur regularly. Short work days are few and far between, especially when spontaneous mid-day traffic jams, afternoon naps (that re-energize people from the heat) and many casual conversations and introductions are factored in. If you organize and expect the same efficiency, organization and time frame as in Western society, you may easily feel impatient, confused, irritated and even defeated.

Kallee takes the opportunity to interview an Aswasi community member who is registering to vote.

At the end of the day, people do accomplish their tasks and complete their errands on time. This is exactly how the news is compiled by the six o’clock deadline. In the late afternoon, the journalists trickle back to the station from their go-with-the-flow day with all the necessary information, more often than not. Whether It is bouncing ideas off one another, helping add a human rights angle to a story, learning how to use the audio software to add voice pops to our pieces or editing our final drafts, our skills and resources come together collectively and in a timely manner. The news room at Kapital Radio is a dynamic environment where teamwork leads to the production and broadcast of the daily local evening news.

Our weekly commitments to “Know Your Rights” require the same finessing of time, planning and researching. As a team, we decide on the topics and choose guests a week in advance. Confirming the guests, researching the opposing sides of the issues and formulating the panel questions are just some of the groundwork duties we take on for the weekend’s show. Once in studio on Saturdays, the week’s preparations are realized in a two-hour well-organized, balanced and fair debate between panelists, Mufty (the host and a jhr trained journalist) and his listeners. “Know Your Rights” aims to educate listeners on human rights by presenting taboo or controversial issues, such as homosexuality and abortion.

Under the guidance and expertise of our managers and with the collective effort of our co-workers, it is rewarding to be a part of the Kapital Radio team. With the little experience that I have in journalism, being introduced to the technicalities and operations of talk radio and news broadcasting in only one week has already been a valuable learning lesson. We will constantly face obstacles as we attempt to understand this media climate, find balance in normal everyday affairs and figure out how our skills can be useful and how human rights awareness can be promoted even more. There is much more room to exchange, learn and grow.

One thought on “Getting a Grasp on Time and Media in Ghana

  1. Justine

    Fantastic post, Ashley! Great to know what it’s like working as a journalist over there in Ghana. Keep up the great work!

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