Investigative Journalism Confab ends in Accra

Ambassador Kabral Blay Amihere

Ambassador Kabral Blay Amihere

A two-day West Africa Conference on Investigative Journalism has ended in Accra with a call on journalists to give meaning to their role as the fourth estate of the realm.

The conference which was organised under the auspices of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) with support from DW Akademie aimed at empowering journalists to focus on issues that undermine development.

It was also to serve as a platform for cross-border colaborations among journalists in the sub–region as well as providing an opportunity for synergies and networking.

In attendance were journalists from Kenya, Senegal, Nigeria, Liberia, Germany, the United States of America and Ghana.

Opening the conference, former chairman of the National Media Commission, Ambassador Kabral Blay Amihere said the traditional media would continue to be relevant despite the advent of social media and its attendant threat.

He said the media landscape had changed over the years, as a result it was important that journalists adapt to the new and emerging trends.

Giving an overview of media development in West Africa, he said the media in the 70s and 80s were targeted at fighting dictators with the sole aim of restoring democratic rule.

Though this fight was not easy, the media with other collaborators managed to make the impact, stressing that “The democracy we are seeing today is as a result of the relentless fight put up by journalists.”

Mr Amihere explained that the sub-region has seen remarkable improvement in terms of the environment in which the media operates.

However, the increasing ownership of the media by politicians and their surrogates had the potential to derail the gains made in broadening the frontiers of press freedom, stressing that “This phenomenon is not peculiar to the West African sub-region. It is a global issue which needs to be dealt with.”

Mr Amihere noted that corruption would continue to be a major issue hindering the progress of the continent; therefore it was important that journalists developed their investigative capacities.

He also commended countries in the sub-region for their efforts at entrenching press freedom, stressing that; “It will interest you to know that Ghana is ahead of France and the United States of America in terms of the Press Freedom Index.”

On his part, the Executive Director of MFWA, Mr Sule Braimah said the media has a huge responsibility in ensuring that the citizenry enjoyed maximum development.

He said even though the media was at the fore front of facing out dictatorship in the sub-region and replacing it with democracy, the benefits of democracy were yet to manifest for the larger majority of the people.

Mr Braimah said the media would have to enforce its constitutional mandate of holding the ruling class accountable for the greater good of society.

BY CLIFF EKUFUL

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