Parliament is a unique institution among the three arms of government or the state.
It is described as the citadel of democracy. The citizens are represented by their elected representatives, who are elected by their electorates.
currently in Ghana, we have 275 Members of Parliament representing 30.8 million Ghanaians.
A member of the House does representation, legislation, deliberations, oversight, finance, and investigations.
When a Member of the House makes submissions, asks questions, makes statements, or does anything parliamentary or unparliamentary, they must be reported to the world, or the public must be made to know.
A journalist who does the dissemination of what transpires on the floor of the House is a parliamentary reporter.
He informs the world of the happenings in the House.
He does it by being balanced, accurate, fair, and objective in his reportage.
Circumspection and diplomacy should also be added elements for consideration when performing his tasks.
Because reporting from the House, where there is too much partisanship requires the above-mentioned traits or elements on the part of the journalist.
He has to use the right jargon and explains them very well.
His tools must include the 1992 Constitution, the standing orders of the House, the Constitution of the Parliamentary Press Corps, Code of Ethics of the Ghana Journalists, Votes and Proceedings and Order Paper of the House.
Parliamentary Press Corps
It is an association or an umbrella body of the various journalists who report from the House.These include those from the private and public media houses ranging from the print, broadcast and online. Also included are freelancers.
The corps has an executive body that runs it activities on a daily basis.
The members of the executive body are elected according to the dictates of the corps Constitution.
It has other various committees that aid the executive body to perform its functions.These include vetting, welfare, disciplinary committees etc.
Reporting from the House is a specialized area that requires training and other motivation.
A journalist who reports from Parliament faces some challenges in his job.
1 Lack of training opportunities to understudy from other jurisdictions
2 Being tainted as supporting a particular party by an opposing MP
3 At times,refusal on the part the of an MP to release information or procrastination on the part of an MP to give information to the journalist
4 Editors and media owners rampant changes of their correspondents or reporters from the House affect specialization. (Attrition rate)
Journalists reporting from the House serve as mirrors for the public.
They need to be encouraged and assisted to continue feeding the public with the right information to enrich parliamentary democracy in our political environment.
A Parliamentary journalist is a pivot in our parliamentary democracy.
Source: Ahmed Osumanu Halid
A member of the Parliamentary Press Corps.