Ghana Journalist Association Website
ABOUT THE GHANA JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) was established on 15th August 1949 at a time when politics in the then former British colony of the Gold Coast was at its peak and the minds of many media practitioners and ordinary citizens were filled with events of the ‘nationalist’ struggle. It is significant to note that a number of the “nationalist leaders” were journalists who employed the power of the pen to propagate their ideas and vision of independence for the then Gold Coast.
They included Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Dr. J.B. Danquah. At the time of its formation, it was called Africa Press Association and was set up to provide the indigenous media practitioner with an alternative to the colonial press. One of its first actions in support of anti-colonialism was to organise a boycott of the so-called “white press” for a brief period. However, political differences among members of the Association grew and soon took its toll on the unity and solidarity of members.
This resulted in a lull in its activities between 1950 and 1954. There was a major attempt by some members to wake the association up from its slumber and to form an association made up solely of journalists.
The crusade was led by the late T.B. Ottie, Ben Dorkenoo and other local veteran journalists. They were supported by Sam Morris, a West Indian stringer. However, unity was difficult to achieve immediately as a result of political differences. The media climate became a bit more conducive for the association’s rejuvenation just after Ghana’s independence in 1957.
It was at a time when the CPP which eventually won the general elections had both broadened and consolidated its media policy. The Ghana News Agency, the School of Journalism – now the Ghana Institute of Journalism – and the Guinea Press (which later became the New Times Corporation) were established.
In 1959, the Ghana Press Club was established with Messrs Martin Therson-Cofie as President, Eric Adjorlolo as Treasurer and G.A. Hassen as Financial Secretary. Mr. Therson-Cofie was re-elected in 1960 with the late Cecil Forde as his deputy. Mr. Henry Ofori (Carl Mutt) as Secretary, Eric Adjorlolo as Treasurer, Carl Reindorf, Organising Secretary and Regina Addae, Executive Member. The Ghana Press Club survived until the First Republic in 1960.
In that same year, its name was changed to the Association of Ghanaian Journalists and Writers. The Trade Union Congress made many unsuccessful attempts to absorb it into the Association of Printers and Newspapers Workers of the TUC.
In 1962, the new association became affiliated to the now defunct Prague-based International Organisation of Journalists. The GJA is currently a member of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), West African Journalists Association, and the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) the world’s biggest journalists’ union fed eration representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries.
The National Liberation Council (NLC)Government, which was formed after the overthrow of the CPP Government in 1966, took over the premises of the Association, claiming that it was a “nest” for socialist press ideologies and a haven for political mischief-makers. Despite all these efforts to cripple the Association, there were members who persevered and showed great commitment.
However, their attempt to rejuvenate the Association was not possible until the change of government in 1969. The Association was revived and then renamed the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) during Ghana’s Second Republic under Prime Minister Dr. Abrefa Busia. It was headed by the late Sam Arthur who was later appointed Director of Information Services Department (ISD). He was succeeded by Fraser Ofori- Atta.
The GJA once again faced difficulties even under the civilian regime of Dr. Busia. There were summary dismissals in the civil and public service which affected some journalists. Serious divisions began to emerge when it appeared that the GJA was not protesting against the dismissals and/mass transfer of journalists. A faction of the journalists broke away, under the leadership of the late T.B. Ottie, who became the Regional Chairman of the Consultative Confederation of Journalists, as it was known.
This group had representation from all the regional branches with the exception of Greater Accra. Matters came to a head when journalists in the Ashanti region boycotted a dinner held as part of an inaugural event. This culminated in the mass transfer of journalists based in Ashanti region to other parts of the country.
The Association had barely recovered from the shock of transfers, and in some cases dismissals, when the late General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong staged a coup in January 1972 and ordered the dismissal of quite a number of journalists.