KWESI Pratt Jr, a seasoned Ghanaian journalist, has advised conventional media organisations to pay extra attention to developing online platforms as the time for ordinary journalism seems to be up.
Pratt, the editor-in-chief of the Insight newspaper and proprietor of Pan African TV, all in Accra, Ghana, said technology was making traditional media “very vulnerable”.
He explained that as society developed, new forms of communication would also emerge and that one of the new forms of communication which had emerged now was social media.
“There is no alternative for traditional media; we all have to go online as well now. The traditional media’s time is up [because] new technological inventions are making them very weak. So, we need to diversify and pay attention to social media and other forms of media which will soon develop,” Pratt advised in an interview.
On media freedom, Pratt said while journalists needed guaranteed freedom to operate, no country could be said to be entirely free in terms of media freedom “because freedom itself is a changing reality”.
“So, every day we are confronted with new realities and so on. So, the duty of all journalists and indeed of all people is to constantly breach the boundaries of free expression. We will never get to a stage where we will say we’ve reached the ultimate and therefore, let’s pack our weapons, let’s stop advocating for freedom,” Pratt noted.
On what journalists in newsrooms across Africa should do to champion political change in their respective countries, the media guru pointed out that it was important to recognise that there were all kinds of journalists in the world today.
“There are fascist journalists, there are journalists who tend to believe in socialism, and there are religious fundamentalists who are also journalists. All these journalists are pursuing their interests. For journalists who believe that there is a need for fundamental change in our societies, change which should involve a shift in the production relations,…. You cannot change anything if you don’t know it,” Pratt said.
“So, it’s important for all of us to know our society by interacting with the people and reading our history. It’s important for us also to realise that knowledge by itself does not change society if it is not acted upon. Therefore, it is important when you have acquired the knowledge to act upon it by giving a voice to the voiceless. We have to do the things that we believe in and avoid opportunism.”
He said the dilemma of Africa was simply that “we happen to be the richest continent in the world and yet we are ridden with poverty, unemployment, high levels of illiteracy and so on.”
Asked what could be done to neutralise the now entrenched inter-dependence in some African countries between politicians and religion, Pratt explained that: “My understanding of politics is that it is a science which aims at creating resources and ensuring that these resources are equitably distributed. Of course, other people have different ideas of what politics is. But it’s important for us to realise that in all societies there are charlatans who take advantage of the illiteracy, ignorance in society.”
“Our charge is to bring to life the activities of these charlatans and how these charlatans impact negatively on the lives of our people. It’s important for us to understand also that religion is a very divisive phenomenon – exceedingly divisive phenomenon! If it’s not tackled properly, it can blow up in our faces and so on,” he explained.
Pratt said the duty of journalists was not to impose their reality on other people but to learn the reality of people.
“Our duty as progressive journalists is to shine the light where it matters most,” said Pratt.