Vice President John Dramani Mahama is worried that the media, instead of promoting unity for national development, is rather engaged in a warfare that is increasingly deepening hatred among the citizenry.
He said the 1992 Constitution which guarantees press freedom and the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law were part of efforts to broaden the frontiers of democracy and empower the people using a free and independent media.
Mr Mahama however expressed regret that what was considered a positive move to promote social cohesion has now turned into a platform to polarize the nation along political lines, thereby causing widespread divisions among the people.
The Vice President made these remarks while addressing the 16th Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) awards at the Banquet Hall of the State House on Friday. It was on the theme: “Giving Impetus to Democracy and Development in Africa: The Role of Investigative Journalists.”
A cursory look at Ghana’s media landscape, according to John Mahama, revealed that the nation was at war and pointed out that “newspapers and radio stations are lined up in the political trenches with their political allies and paymasters throwing printed and verbal grenades and taking hot shots at the enemy lines.”
This he said was evident in the manner in which media practitioners fabricated malicious rumours, idle gossips, blatant lies and concoctions as well as libelous reports just to dent the reputations of perceived opponents.
The recent wikileaks cables, which he said were meant to be confidential, have accentuated the media warfare to the extent that “nothing in this country matter anymore.”
He regretted that “one Julian Assange and his wikileaks organization had opened the big Pandora’s box not only about Ghana but the rest of the globe.”
“It has its positive sides because the work of the diplomats in accessing information would be difficult because many would be more careful in accepting their cocktail invitations, but even if they do, they would not be in a hurry to open their mouths as was previously the case.”
In the pre-independence era, the Veep said, the private media was considered a partner in the fight for liberation from colonial rule, while in the post-independence period; the role of the media was to help promote the unity and integration of the newly independent African nations.
In the 21st Century, however, the media is supposed to set the agenda for national development and cohesion by assuming their role as educators, historians, social motivators and entertainers, he posited.
Mr John Mahama therefore urged all media personnel to focus on investigative journalism since it involved much research to ascertain truth and produce outcomes that will shape national policies.