The Dean of the School of Communication, University of Ghana, Legon has said that the Ghanaian media can be trusted to professionally report the impending 2020 general elections.
Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo who spoke on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show (SMS) Friday said “The media has come of age. They did great work in previous elections and I can say they will do better now. They have improved over time.”
Speaking on the back of the World Press Freedom Day which is under the theme “Media for Democracy, Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation,” she urged the media to go beyond giving visibility to the issues and the political actors advancing them.
The media should “help us make sense of what they(politicians) are saying, helping us to know if they are making false claims, making sure that the people are helped to understand the issues,” she charged.
This year’s World Press Freedom Day is being marked in Ethiopia.
Since the repeal of the criminal libel law in 2001, there has been a remarkable expansion in media outlets in Ghana. According to the National Communications Authority, there are 392 operational radio stations in Ghana and 128 licensed TV operators.
Ghana boasts of a media pluralism and freedom that has been ranked first in Africa according to the World Press Freedom Index.
Recent disturbing developments in the media landscape, culminating in a drop in Ghana's ranking on the world press freedom index, have revived calls for better protection for practitioners. This year, Tiger eye PI staff, Ahmed Hussein Suale was assassinated whilst journalists with the New Times Corporation were also physically assaulted by some police officers. These incidents, according to media activists require media owners and state agencies to ensure journalists are safe on the job as the world marks press freedom day today.
In a message commemorating the day, the flag bearer of the National Democratic Congress, John Dramani Mahama has said that “On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, I say ayekoo to all journalists and urge governments and security agencies to guarantee their safety in the discharge of their work.”
A government statement also added that “The Government of Ghana reiterates its commitment to supporting measures that deepen the frontiers of free expression in the advancement of our democracy.”
On her part, Prof. Gadzekpo called for some level of media advocacy to ensure that public office holders are held to account for their actions beyond reporting the facts of their stewardship.
Although she conceded that doing this may not be smooth sailing as some media houses are either politically tainted or are owned by active politicians. She is comforted by the fact that there are objective media houses whose professionalism will balance the narrative to serve the public good.
The Communications lecturer called on the professional Journalist to distinguish their works from those on social media, which is run by amateurs. She added that social media contents which may be considered for the traditional media should be subjected to ethics of the media profession.
This is because the public is less tolerant of media infractions and holds the media to a higher standard of accountability.
The Dean of the School of Communication also called on the public not to give up on the media. Urging for continual support, she said that the prevailing media freedom should always be preferred to the days prior to it.
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