Akan newscasters, presenters under fire

Dr Eric Opoku-Mensah,UTAG President.

Dr Eric Opoku-Mensah,UTAG President.

The president of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), Dr Eric Opoku-Mensah, has expressed his displeasure about the use of humour and embellishment of facts especially in local news contents saying the practice is inappropriate.

He explained that news should not be seen as a comedy show.

Dr Opoku-Mensah, who is also the head of Department, Department of Communication of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), said this at the first anniversary celebration of the establishment of the Campus Broadcasting Service (CBS) Centre of the university.

The celebration was on the theme: “maintaining professional standards in journalism – the role of the journalist.”

“The Current situation where we witness derogatory and unsolicited humour in most Akan news contents and their subsequent embellishment of facts which have contributed to inappropriate language on radio and television is highly distasteful” he said.

He indicated that news was not a comedy show and thus its products should not be overly reduced to that. Radio presenters and newscasters should desist from the unnecessary humour and polishing of facts as it counts against their professionalism.

He stated: “for most discerning listeners, the fine line between facts (which belongs to news) and fiction which belongs to creative writing” has been blurred.”

The establishment of the centre paved the way for ATL Fm, a campus radio station, then operating within the Atlantic Hall to be relocated to a more spacious environment after operating in hall for over two decades.

Dr Opoku-Mensah further said: ‘in fact, facts and opinions have been rolled together to form a whole new creation which cannot be seen as news or fiction.”

“The personality assassination, name calling and general abusive nature of some journalists on the airwaves must be halted” he said.

Journalists, Dr Opoku Mensah said, should understand the concept of freedom of speech and that their access to the camera or microphone did not mean they had the independence to be irresponsible in their speech and action.

He said: “television programmes in which journalists unashamedly exhibit various levels of unprofessionalism and smirch the good name of the media should be discontinued.”

He indicated that, lack of proper training due to incessant springing up of unaccredited training institutions and media outfits continue to be the major cause of ill-mannered behaviour of some journalists.

Dr Opoku-Mensah further stated the need for an end to personality assassination such as name calling and general abusive nature of some journalists on the airwaves.

Touching on adherence to the tenets of the journalism profession, Dr Opoku-Mensah admonished journalists to revisit the basic principles of truth, accuracy, fairness and objectivity which are the bedrock of journalism and the foundation upon which the media in Ghana had built a positive image for itself.

“The general misrepresentation and intentional distortion of facts by some journalists only leaves the profession questionable, especially when its mandate in the social, political and economic life of Ghanaians is concerned.

He cautioned journalists in the country not to allow politicians to set agenda with unverifiable information and called on all to rise up and put pressure on the current parliament to pass the Right to Information Bill into Law, saying, “This fight cannot be left only to the Coalition for Right to Information Bill.

He wondered why media professionals should allow political actors to make unsubstantiated argument and assertions unchallenged.

The Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Prof George K. T. Oduro who was the chairman for the event, urged journalists to be at the fore front in the promotion of patriotism in the country.

He noted that sectional activities in the form of ethnicity, partisan politics among others were gradually eroding the concept of the Ghanaian and said that the responsibility rested on the media to help stop such activities.

FROM DAVID O. YARBOI-TETTEH, CAPE COAST

 

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