President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has cautioned media personnel who exhibit “breezy disregard for ethical values” to desist from such acts.

According to Affail Monney, journalists who are “consumed with incontinent ego and surfeited with prideful arrogance” must know that press freedom is a liberty and not a license to destroy.

He said the abuse of office by pressmen together with the inability of various authorities to arrest and prosecute perpetrators who attack journalists are some of the reasons for the drop in Ghana’s ranking when it comes to press freedom.

He was addressing media personnel at a flag-raising ceremony to commemorate World Press Freedom Day in Accra, Monday.

The GJA president said the Association is urging government to fast track the monitoring mechanism on the safety of journalists which has been incubating since last year.

“From the Honours List, we zoom in on the global league table of free media systems to examine quickly the causal factors of Ghana’s decline-  23rd in 2018, 27th in 2019 and 30th in 2020.

“The common thread which runs through our backsliding is impunity. Impunity, if not checked, ignites a self-propelling and re- energizing cycle which then becomes hellishly difficult to uproot.

“A pesky call, therefore, goes to the authorities to deal surgically with the calcifying cancer of impunity by prosecuting and punishing, to the fullest extent within the law, perpetrators of attacks against journalists regardless of their material wealth, social status or political links.

“This is the least action expected in a country touted for its fidelity to the rule of law and not the rule of men,” he said.

Even at the 30th position, Mr Monney said the country’s media system is “well at the optimistic end of the spectrum, as it has been adjuded as satisfactory by global benchmark and outranking paragons of journalism like US, UK and France.

“This , however, should not give room for any narcotic feeling of complacency. Rather, we must take all steps and move all out to salvage our achievements in media freedom and functional democracy,” he emphasised.

While commending the role of the media in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Monney also celebrated fallen heroes in the media space.

“In an increasingly complex media landscape ignited by citizens right to the use of social media, the importance of the traditional media, and the need for an all-absorbing attention to reliable and accurate news has become more paramount. 

“As the virus rages, we couldn’t but agree more with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that “the second pandemic of misinformation from harmful health advice to wild conspiracy theories” that have unfortunately accompanied the global fight against the virus can only be waged effectively by the media with “verified, scientific, fact-based news and analysis’.

“While we all feel the devastating impact of the pandemic, UNESCO offers a glimmer of hope to the media. It says the unprecedented health crisis has the potential to rebuild trust in the profession.” he concluded.

This year’s celebration is under the theme: “Journalism without Fear or Favour” but has also been broken down into three sub-themes including “Safety of Women and Men Journalists and Media Workers”, “Independence and Professional Journalism Free from Political and Commercial Influence’ and “Gender Equality in All Aspects of the Media”.