Marisa Schwartz: Loud Silence Media in Ghana

Ghana is a coming of age story. After 50 years as a nation Ghana has progressed past the civil wars, ethno-religious conflicts, and wide spread poverty that plague many nascent African countries. The media machine has massive affects on a country’s development, especially one that is just planting its feet on the ground. Media content, coverage, bias, and relation to the people all play a role in a developing a nation. Not only how people view the media, but also how press coverage changes perceptions of the country internally, and how individual journalists are treated.

I’ve had the opportunity to work in the Ghanaian media industry for the last four years, in radio, print, and television journalism. While media in Ghana is mostly free and fair, there are prominent imbalances. Imbalance is something quite common in contemporary Ghana, a country wrestling with all its strength to accept modern technology and global customs while holding on to traditional beliefs and even managing to incorporate the two. Ghana’s imbalance in media mostly leans towards the heavy-hitter: politics. Politics dominates the air waves, newsstands, TV satellites, modems, and mobile connections. This is all good and informative, yet dangerous because it gives politicians and affluent members of society the opportunity to spread lies to millions of people. Sometimes they tell the truth, but sometimes they lie and there are few ways to check facts. The amount of political coverage is overwhelming and people tend to blindly believe what they hear on the news. Some journalistic efforts are fantastic, but others feel like the reporter is simply doing what he thinks media is supposed to be, rather than creative or investigative reporting.

These images explore the role of media in progressing Ghana as a nation. My latest project in Ghana, Loud Silence Media, is a guerrilla style approach to human-interest video coverage in Ghana, available online and on television locally. Our goal is to change the static content of news reporting and represent the real stories of real people. These images represent some of Loud Silence’s most compelling stories along with an insider’s look at the Ghanaian media machine.

Marisa Schwartz is a photographer currently based in New York City. She has worked extensively in West Africa and co-founded Loud Silence Media, a documentary production house based in Accra, Ghana in 2012.

Marisa’s photography explores themes of global culture and modern technology in traditional African cultures, the role of media in developing countries, and immigration struggles to the USA. Marisa attended Parsons School of Design and graduated with a BFA in Photography, minoring in Culture and Media Studies. She currently works in the Photo Department of TIME Magazine.