How GJA’s Reigning Journalists Of The Year Sparked A Heated Soli Debate – Melvin Tarlue

As an employee, sometimes all that you want to hear on a Friday morning is “Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF).”

That shows that the week of hustling and struggling at the work place has ended and the weekend is here for fun, relaxation, and perhaps lots of family time.

But it seems saying TGIF, and making run for fun, relaxation, can sometimes be pushed aside when it comes to discussing a matter that is so ‘dear’ to a particular group of professionals.

In Ghana, one group of professionals that have a matter so dear to their hearts that they are ever ready to discuss it anyday with great passion, are journalists.

But what is it? Soli!!

Soli collection is one thing that keeps generating discussion among members of the media fraternity year-in-year-out.

So the debate on soli was revived on Friday morning November 29, 2019, thanks to a call from the reigning Best Journalist of the Year of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Doreen Hammond, on Ghanaian journalists to stop accepting ‘soli’.

Ms. Hammond in her call, had indicated that the act of taking soli is not a good practice.

“Soli is not right to the extent that it influences you. Taking money to drop a story is unacceptable. Soli is wrong if it will influence you from the right thing or lose credibility,” she said.

What Is Soli?

‘Soli’ in the media space in Ghana refers to an amount of money paid to a journalist after he or she covers an event for publication.

The amount can range from GH¢ 20 to about GH¢ 150 or more depending on the financial muscle of the organization that is holding the event to which a journalist is invited to provide coverage.

‘Soli, A Necessary Evil’

Some media practitioners have justified soli as a form of transportation fare for the journalist from the event centre back to their media houses.

But Ms. Hammond strongly believes soli is unethical and its collection ought to seize.

Speaking to Bola Ray on Starr Chat Wednesday, Ms Hammond said she does not accept soli.

“Soli is something you take to influence. I don’t take soli,” Ms Hammond said.

Harsh Reaction

Her call was however met with a somewhat ‘harsh’ reaction from a number of journalists.

For some like Masahudu Ankilu of African Eye Report, the call is insulting to the media fraternity or journalists in Ghana.

This is because they feel there are more pressing issues confronting journalists in Ghana which need to be tackled and not the call for an end to soli taking.

“Aaah! So soli is a great worry to her? As a journalist in this country?, Emmanuel Ajarfo, a deputy editor at Modern Ghana, quizzed Ms. Hammond, as he pointed out that she was not paying attention to the real challenges facing journalists in Ghana.

Hypocrisy

For Editor of The Finder, Elvis Darko, those who speak against soli live in the ideal world.

According to him, critics of soli do not provide detail perspectives on the realities that make soli a “necessary evil for the hungry, poor, badly treated, pauper called journalist in Ghana.”

Mr. Darko adds that “those who live in the practical Journalism space in Ghana will neither condemn nor endorsed soli.”

He feels it’s hypocritical on the part of those calling on journalists to exhibit professionalism by not taking soli without paying attention to the poor working conditions of journalists in Ghana.

“We don’t talk about the slavery conditions under which journalists work but, care so much about why they must exhibit the professionalism,” Mr. Darko said.

A reporter with Radio Gold Online, Henry Martinson, says journalists have reasons to take soli, urging media houses and leaders in the country to address the root cause of soli taking.

Will The Debate On Soli Ever End?

The debate on soli has been ongoing for several years.
It remains to be seen if the debate will ever come to an end anytime soon as the conditions apparently necessitating the collection of soli by journalists still appear to be prevailing across media houses.

The Ghana Journalists Association, the umbrella body of journalists in Ghana have consistently urged its members to act professionally, including refusing soli.

But it doesn’t seem to have demonstrated enough commitment in addressing the financial challenges that confront most journalists across the country which apparently compels them to rely on soli for survival.