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GJA marks 70th anniversary in Accra

The Ghanaian media has been advised to work toward expelling sub-standard actions that have given rise to attacks from the public and attempt to introduce contents censorship.

Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh, Executive Director, Centre for Democratic Development, Ghana (CDD-Ghana), said a change in the current state of the media, which is  perceived to have been captured by the political class and media owners to promote their personal interests and agenda, was necessary to safeguard the hard won space for free media.

“Partisan framing of all issues, vulgarism, sexist language, ill informed opinion journalism, filtering out negative news about people and reporting what is not factual, among others, have in recent years become dominant in our media space.

This has allowed the citizens to question the relevance of the media and has given rise to debates about censorship. Let us fight this negative feedback by addressing these same issues which have formed the basis of the media attacks,” he explained.

He was speaking at the 70th anniversary celebration of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in Accra yesterday.

It was under the theme, ‘Democracy, freedom and independence of the media: 70 years of GJA’s contribution.’

Professor Prempeh described the public’s perception of the Ghanaian media as “troubling” given that it had formed the basis for the call for media control by the government.

“The sentiments expressed by some Ghanaians on the need for government control is due to what the media has become for them. The media is now for partisan debates and disregard for all other voices. It is seen as a campaign train which is always on the move and does not allow for governance to take off.

These have in turn given rise to attacks on journalists and allowed calls for control mechanisms. We have to fight off these tendencies gradually eroding the public’s trust and use of the media,” he added.

As a civil society concerned about the development, he said, the CDD-Ghana was ready to assist to raise the standard and improve the quality of journalism to ward off any attempt to limit the scope of freedom granted the media. 

Echoing similar sentiments, Ambassador David Anaglate, former Director General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), reiterated the importance of media freedom as a catalyst for national development.

He said the struggle which preceded media freedom should serve as a wake-up call to today’s journalists to work as per the ethics and standards required.

He called on the National Media Commission (NMC) to protect the media and collaborate with other institutions to ensure the safety and security of journalists.

President of GJA, Roland Affail Monney, recalled both past and present journalists for their immense contribution toward media freedom and helping to shape the country’s democratic course.     

Despite the existence of media freedom, he said the GJA was concerned about the increasing spate of attacks against journalists and called for radical steps to deal with the impunity which result in the attacks.

In the meantime, he called for strict enforcement of the law to deal with offenders regardless of their social status or political connections.   

Mr Monney, however, cautioned journalists against serving the public with mediocre contents which erodes the public’s confidence in the media.

Going forward, the GJA would repurpose journalism to tackle social needs and governance issues while also prioritising the welfare and training of journalists locally and internationally.

A former Chairman of the NMC, Kabral Blay-Amihere, urged journalists to safeguard media freedom guaranteed by the 1992 constitution through responsible journalism that meet the needs of Ghanaians and spurs national development.

BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS

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