Strong and independent journalists are one of the most important factors in sustaining a free and fair country. However, in the wrong hands, the media industry can do just the opposite. In Ghana, a country continuously praised as the most peaceful West African nation, the media industry is well developed. But it isn't keeping up with the times and that needs to change for the next generation.
I started working as a journalist in Ghana in 2009 when I volunteered at a radio station in Kumasi. Our radio station was mostly music and entertainment based, but they were very adamant about having powerful news reports three times a day. I discovered that news on the radio was the backbone of Ghanaian journalism. Everybody listened to radio: in their cars, at home, at work, everywhere.
During my internship, I met some of the most amazing motivated young journalists who really had a passion for what they did. Almost nobody on the news team actually got paid, but they showed up to work every day with motivation to find controversial stories and breaking news. We all had a great enthusiasm for sharing the stories of real people in our community.
I kept in touch with all of my fellow journalists and returned to Ghana in 2010, this time working as a photojournalist for the country's longest running newspaper, The Daily Graphic. While at Graphic, a government sponsored print house, I realized the huge difference between the "media industry" in Ghana and the small band of young, unpaid journalists I worked with at the radio station. While the newspaper did a great job of reporting, it was staffed by mostly old men and pretty much reported only on government activities. Clearly, there needed to be competition in journalism to keep it fair and unbiased. Also, motivated young people were necessary to bring vigor and excitement to news reporting and around this time, television was taking over the local media's airwaves.
When I returned to Ghana in 2012 to found Loud Silence Media
with my journalist friends, Ghanaian television had grown from about five channels to over 35. Most middle-class homes had satellites and everyone had at least basic television. Throughout the years, our team had discussed our plans to revolutionize the media industry and it was now clear that television and video journalism was the optimal platform. While most television shows in Ghana are studio and talk show-based, without supporting pictures, we wanted to take full advantage of the power of television to show stories rather than just telling them.
We use a guerilla-style journalism with small, portable, yet high-quality equipment to get real stories from real people. We take our cameras and teams out on the streets from slums to villages to the Presidential castle. Our small team of motivated journalists has the experience to tell stories that the Ghanaian public will relate to. Rather than a huge television crew, we work in the field with about 3 people and small HDSLR equipment, so our subjects feel much more comfortable and share with us their realities.
Loud Silence has been working for over seven months on pure passion. We have produced a number of short-form documentaries and are ready to have them on television for our Ghanaian audience to experience. Our stories cover a wide range of human interest topics. One of our most touching stories is that of a local one-man NGO who supports deaf children in villages. In Ghana, the disabled are often stigmatized as a curse on the family. They are rarely sent to school and in some cases they are even killed by the family. Our team went to several remote villages to share the stories of a few deaf children; including a young deaf girl who was raped, has a two year old son, and is taken care of by her blind grandmother. Also, a brilliant and talented young boy whose parents refuse to send him to school despite funding from the NGO.
We also cover stories on innovation and relevant current affairs in Ghana. Right now, there is a huge energy crisis here, as well as a despicable state of waste management in cities. At an old land fill site, we found a woman who lives and cooks with the methane gas produced from the heat of the garbage. While this could be dangerous, Loud Silence goes further to explore how capitalizing on this on a large scale could possibly solve Ghana's energy and waste management issues at once.
Loud Silence is always working. We have three stories currently in the works right now and we are doing everything possible to grow, so that we can give opportunities, real jobs, to motivated young journalists just like us with a passion for telling the stories that matter to real people. If you'd like to get behind us, support our Kickstarter
This project was featured in GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.