With Ghana falling four spots down the World Press Freedom ranking, media practitioners have launched a campaign aimed at defending their constitutional space.
At least 11 journalists have been attacked by security persons and party supporters since January 2018. There has been no prosecutions.
Journalists with Multimedia, TV3 Network, Citi FM, Ghanaweb, Ghanaian Times, A1 Radio, Kotoko Express have all fallen victims to attacks.
There have been arbitrary arrests and detention, attacks on media houses, torture, seizure and destruction of media equipment. It makes 31 incidents of attacks and violations on 41 journalists since 2017.
The stand out case, however, remains the murder of an undercover journalist Ahmed Suale with Tiger Eye PI, who was shot in public in February 2019.
It is the first killing of the journalist in over 10 years, the Media Foundation for West Africa has said.
The most recent example is the alleged brutal assault on a ModernGhana editor on June 27, 2019, after national security operatives stormed the online news portal’s office in Accra.
Photo: JoyNews journalists Gifty Andoh-Appiah and Evans Mensah discuss attacks on media
Ghana’s media is seen as performing a larger than life with people more likely to draw the attention of a radio/TV station to wrongdoing, than to immediately report to the police, Joy News’ Evans Mensah observed.
The increasing threats and physical assault on journalists have united several media houses in defence of media freedom. The Ghana Journalists Association, which is involved in the fresh campaign, wants media houses to close their lines of competition and rally around the campaign.
GJA President, Roland Affail Monney described the attacks as having a “scandalous frequency”.
He rejected the explanation that irresponsible journalism fuels the attacks, stating the murder of Ahmed Suale, the battering of Latif Iddrisu at the Police headquarters had nothing to do with irresponsible journalism.
“Impunity is largely to blame,” he stated emphatically. Affail Monney, however, expressed concern about factionalism in the media which he said is undermining the push for greater respect for media work.
“Journalists need to pull in one professional direction. We need to close our ranks.”
Former Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Ltd, Ken Ashigbe, was also concerned that some media houses do not care when a journalist of a competitor station or network is assaulted. “Our only strength is when we come together,” he said.
Media houses gave more attention to other news items than attacks on their fellow professionals. The Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Sulemana Braimah, emphasised support for press freedom and a conducive environment because “good journalism always hurts somebody.”