Journalists have been urged to be more responsible and decent in the discharge of their duty in order to accelerate the fight towards press freedom.
“If Journalists dramatize too much in the presentation of information to the public, they rather create unnecessary tension and fears which endanger the fundamental rights of press freedom”, Professor Stephan Russ-Mohl, Professor of Journalism and Media Management of Switzerland said in Accra at the Weekend.
Speaking at a lecture to commemorate Ghana’s Golden Jubilee under the topic “Fifty Years of Ghanaian Independence – Role of Journalists in a free society” he said the media could contribute to nation building and democracy by informing the people appropriately to help them make informed decisions.
“And this does not mean that Journalists should take over the mantle of ruling and building the nation from government”, he added at the lecture that was also in memory of the late Samuel Ennin, Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA).
He said though the experience in one country could not automatically work for another, press freedom was a right and a pre-condition to promote professional work and this must be defended at all times.
Professor Russ-Mohl said Ghana had been rated 24 out of 168 countries that had achieved a high range of democracy yet she could not be exempted from countries where institutions were threatening the smooth operations of Journalists by the actions they took.
He noted that as in other professions, black sheep were commonly found every where, thus there was the need to safeguard the Journalism profession by the system of self guidance and self control, both inside and outside the newsroom and to crosscheck stories before publishing.
Mr. Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, Editor of the Daily Graphic said if individuals were to play their roles effectively and efficiently in society, then they must be adequately informed with sufficient facts upon which to base rational judgments and decisions.
“Freedom of the media in the widest sense then represents the collective enlargement of the freedom of the expression of all citizens. It is a fundamental right,” he said.
He said with the liberal media environment in the country, the pluralism of sources had ensured the fullest participation of the people more meaningfully than ever before in national discourse through radio-television phone-ins.
Mr. Boadu-Ayeboafoh said in spite of these, the media had gone through some harsh times under military regimes and the First Republic where the government did not appreciate a liberal media environment, the passage of the Newspaper Licensing Act 1963 (Act 73), ” the shit-bombing” of some newspaper offices and the Radio Eye saga.
He said with the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, the Ghanaian media scene had become one of the most promotive and facilitative of journalistic independence that served as bulwarks against corruption and oppression and defenders of fundamental rights of the people.
Concerning the murder of Samuel Ennin, he said the murder could be due to a story he was chasing or his relationship with some people or that he was a victim of indiscriminate shooting by armed robbers, however, there was the need to work hard to unravel the mystery surrounding his death.
Mrs Gifty Afenyi Dadzie, Member of Council of State and former GJA President who chaired the function paid tribute to all journalists whose contributions had helped to chart the course for good governance.
She said the fight for Ghana’s independence and the emancipation of the African continent would have been much tougher without the work of journalists.
Other personalities who spoke included GJA President Mr. Ransford Tetteh, Mrs Jana Orlowski, Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy, Mr Werner Eggert, Senior Project Manager of International Institute of Journalism (IIJ) and INWENT of Germany and Mr. Joe Thloloe, former Editor in Chief of E-TV and SABC news, South Africa.
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