In light of the continual bashing of reporters who take ‘incentives’ from stakeholders before publishing stories, ace journalist Manasseh Azure has jumped to their defence stressing that his colleagues are not shady.
He noted that journalists found in the practice are unethical but usually take the ‘gifts’ under duress.
Addressing the issue of corruption among journalists, Manasseh Azure indicated that there are two main aspects involved - one that is forced or situations compel some people to be corrupt and then the “bigger problem is one that the journalist go out of their way to be corrupt.”
Although veterans of the profession as well as the public have spoken against the practice usually termed as ‘soli’, Manasseh Azure disclosed that the reason most journalists rely on ‘soli’ is that most media houses do not pay their reporters including taking care of transportation needs when they go to cover events.
He added that the journalists are forced to rely on such gifts which usually come in monetary forms.
“There are some media houses that do not fund their reporters… when they send them to go for stories, they don’t even find the transportation. So the temptation is so high. So that is the part that I said some people are compelled by circumstances to take that soli and live on it. It is wrong but they are pushed.” Manasseh reiterated.
He, however, admitted that some media outfits such as, Multimedia Group Limited, abhor the act hence cater for the transportation fare and other needs of reporters. Thus journalists who take soli are culpable and sanctioned thereafter.
“…so the Multimedia reporters who are here, If they were coming here and there was no car available, whatever means they used to get to this place, when they go back they write that I spent GHC20 to Golden Tulip and back to cover this assignment and their money will be paid to them.”
He continued that “So in the company that I work, if somebody goes to take soli, they will be sanctioned. So with such an arrangement, you wouldn’t expect somebody to go out of their way to do it.”
The investigative journalist touching on the issue of journalists who intentionally take bribes said there are instances where people have admitted that journalists take bribes in order not to break a story but are uncomfortable when it comes to him although he acknowledged he has been tempted before.
Citing a conversation he had with an individual he said, “As an investigative journalist I have been told before by somebody when I was about to break a story that well, we are worried because if this story was about any journalist it wouldn’t be a problem because we will pay them and they will stop it. But for you we know that no amount of money that will make you drop this.”
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