By: Henrietta Afful
More than 40 journalists of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, GBC, have undergone training on the need to build better journalism as part of GBC’s transformative agenda.
The three-day workshop aimed at building the capacity of television, radio, and online news staff was organized by the Training School of the State broadcaster in collaboration with Fulbright Scholar, Award-winning journalist, Columnist of the Chicago Sun Times and Roosevelt University Professor, John Wesley Fountain in Accra.
The skills-based course which started on Friday, June 10 to June 12, 2022, saw participants being taken through ‘the nature of journalism, the art of finding, reporting and crafting extraordinary stories of everyday people, reporting the facts, basic strategies and techniques for interviewing and telling the social justice story in a digital age’.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Director General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Professor Amin Alhassan indicated that GBC’s style has predominately been the narrative of reported speeches and therefore called for a redirection.
“We rely on reported speeches to make our narratives and we must break away from it. We don’t have to wait until someone speaks before we churn out stories. We must write based on our observations and not what someone has said,” Professor Amin Alhassan added.
He said with the mandate of GBC being redefined, there is the need for journalists to shape their reportage with rich narratives and investigative reports across all platforms while enhancing the public service broadcasting mandate of the Corporation.
He urged the participants, selected from all the regional stations of the Corporation, to move away from the role of being “information bureaucrats to journalists who mean business”.
The Facilitator, Professor John W. Fountain, said reporters often tend to miss the structure of storytelling and leave the people who are at the bottom out.
He said humanizing the story, allowing people to see and hear victims is good and should be inculcated in the writing of stories.
“Creativity, craft, sensory details and dialogue breathe life into a story and help create the difference in the world,” Professor Fountain said.
Other resource persons who shared their experiences with the trainees included an Emmy-Award-Winning television producer with NBC Television News, Chicago, Pam Oliver and Documentary Filmmaker and Journalist, Teresa White.
Giving a brief comment at the closing ceremony of the three-day workshop, the Head of GBC News, Akushika Acquaye implored the trainees to use the skills acquired to improve news content and service delivery.
Head of GBC Online, Rebecca Ekpe encouraged participants to take advantage of the training and sharpen their skills by using the knowledge acquired.
“…If you put yourself to the task, you will be a better person, and better than how you started… We all collectively have a stake in making GBC a better place, let’s do this,” the Head of GBC Online said as she urged participants on at the closing ceremony of the workshop.
Head of GBC Radio News, Theresa Owusu Ako lauded the initiative and urged participants to let the training reflect in their work.
Outstanding participants who excelled and demonstrated an understanding of the training were awarded.
Professor Amin Alhassan expressed appreciation on behalf of the Corporation to Professor Fountain.
The Head of GBC Training School—organisers of the programme, Joyce Anim-Ayeko was happy that the programme was successful and had been able to achieve its purpose.
About the Facilitator – Professor Fountain
Professor John W. Fountain is a native son of Chicago’s West Side. He is an award-winning columnist, journalist, professor, publisher and author of True Vine: A Young Black Man’s Journey of Faith, Hope and Clarity; and Dear Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood. He is a tenured full professor of journalism at Roosevelt University for the last 12 years and writes a weekly Sunday column for the Chicago Sun-Times.
As a journalist, he has chronicled the story of murder for 30 years, mostly in Chicago and was a 2021-22 Fulbright Scholar to Ghana. He lectured at the University of Ghana, Legon with a research project on: “Africa Calling: Portraits of Black Americans Drawn to the Motherland”
In May 2022, and also in 2016, 2014 and 2011, Professor Fountain received the Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism for columns published in the Sun-Times.
He won the Lisagor Award in the category of news column or commentary among daily newspapers with a circulation of 100,000 or more from the Chicago Headline Club—the largest local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the country.
In 2022, he was named a finalist in three categories—twice for Best News Column, Editorial Writing or Commentary and for Best Feature Story or Series and also Best Individual Blog Post, independent.
In December 2021, he was winner of a 1st Place National Association of Black Journalists “Salute To Excellence Award” in newspaper column writing. He and his students’ project, “Unforgotten 51,” about the unsolved murders of mostly 51 African-American women in Chicago, also won a 1st place NABJ award.
In November 2021, Professor Fountain won second place Dorothy Storck Award from the Chicago Journalists Association for his column.
In 2016, 2014 and 2011 he won the Peter Lisagor Award for best news column or commentary at a daily newspaper with a circulation of more than 250,000.
Professor Fountain was formerly a national correspondent for The New York Times and a staff writer at the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, where he was once that newspaper’s chief crime reporter. Throughout his career, he has received numerous awards for his work. He was previously a professor of journalism at his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is a graduate of Providence-St. Mel School, Chicago. He often shares his inspirational story of going from poverty and the urban mean streets of Chicago’s West Side to the top of his profession.
He is the founder of WestSide Press Publishing, Chicago.
He is the author of five books, including his latest, Soul Cries: In Black & White and Shades of Gray. He is a frequent guest commentator on radio and television.