GJA urged to set up safety fund

Professor Audrey GadzekpoThe Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has been asked to, as a matter of urgency, establish a safety fund to serve as a support base for journalists in danger.

The Head and Representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for Ghana, Mr. Tiros Dos Santos, who made the suggestion, said that would be a fundamental step in fighting against the impunity of crimes committed against journalists.

“When journalists are attacked, they often find themselves powerless, with no resources or support networks to resort to,” he observed.

Mr. Santos was speaking at a day’s public lecture organized by the GJA in Accra, to mark the beginning of the celebration of this year’s World Press Freedom Day in Ghana.

He also proposed the establishment of a network of lawyers for media professionals and a vigorous national sensitisation campaign, not restricted to celebration of days, but rather continuous at all times in the media outlets.

Delivering a lecture on the topic “Towards better reporting, gender equality and media safety in the digital age,” Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, Director of the School of Communications at the University of Ghana, observed that the Ghanaian media which were supposed to be agents of change, were ill and should therefore, take an introspective look at their hiring and reporting practices.

“How can the media help to promote gender equality when their own practices are anything but gender sensitive?” she asked .

She said its was necessary for the Ghanaian media to take more affirmative steps to develop sensitivity in their policies and programes to help address the poor status of women in decision-making, as Ghana prepared for the commemoration of the Beijing Declaration.

The Beijing declaration adopted by Ghana in 1995, stresses the need to increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision making in and through the media and new technologies of communication.

It also highlights the need to promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.

Professor Gadzekpo, who is a leading member of the Women’s Manifesto Coalition, said the Ghanaian media needed to focus more, promote gender equality and develop more sensitivity in reporting on sensitive gender issues.

She expressed concern about how the advertisements in the media continued to object women and freeze them in traditional roles despite the progresses women had made in their professions.

She expressed disappointment about how the media reported on the rape allegations against the media personality KKD, and how the media dealt with issues of under-aged children, noting this was against the GJA’s own code of ethics under to Article 14 and 15 of the code

“Article 14 of the GJA code of ethics on Victims of Sexual assault states that journalist should avoid identifying victims of sexual assault while Article 15 states that journalists should protect the rights of minors in criminal and other cases and secure the consent of parents or guiding before interviewing or photographing them”.

She furtheradvised the media to desist from relying on the social media for information for their stories and urged it to be vigilant.

Professor Gadzekpo also tasked the media not to misuse its freedoms saying “if media freedoms are eroded and they lose their effectiveness, they undermine not only their own survival but the democratic gains of all citizens”.

By Linda Aryeetey

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