JOURNALISTS have been asked to be circumspect in reporting disaster-related issues.
Consequently, media houses have been urged to be stringent in their gate-keeping role to educate the public on issues that would help protect the environment.
A lecturer at the Department of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Dr. Etse Sikanku, gave the advice in Accra yesterday at a presentation of research findings on ‘breaking news and disaster coverage in Ghana’.
The findings which focused on media thematic area used Daily Graphic and Daily Guide publications between May and August, to assess reportage of the two dailies on the June 3 twin disaster that occurred at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Accra.
He described as worrying, some media reportage on accidents and the pictures shown in the newspapers.
He asked journalists to be mindful of their reportage.
According to him, the media set the agenda for society and any negative reportage had the tendency of having a reflex on the readers, listeners and viewers.
Dr. Sikanku said ethics and standards were very essential in journalistic practice to ensure that readers, listeners and viewers derived satisfaction in news stories rather than traumatising or scaring them.
Messrs Augustine Botwe and Fidelis Sesenu, lecturers at the Department of Communication Studies, University of Ghana and National Film and Television Institute respectively, appealed to journalists in the print media to be very analytical in their reportage since newspapers could be used as reference materials.
They said, the speed of releasing news in the electronic media on breaking news sometimes did not allow the reporters and their medium to do detailed background findings before going on air compared to the print medium which had ample time to do some detailed background findings before going to press.
Of the media houses, they noted, focused on the human interest stories whereas others tried scooping others, hence, the imbalances in their reports.
The Director of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, Prof. Felix Asante, in a welcome address, said the forum was important to create the platform for the participants to analyse the role of the media in the coverage of disaster stories.
The research, undertaken by Dr, Sikanku, Augustine Botwe, Eric Agyekum and Fidelis Sesenu, lecturers at the Department of Communication Studies, at the University of Ghana and the National Film and Television Institute was to assess the Ghanaian media coverage on disasters using the June 3, as a case study.
By Francis Asamoah Tuffour & Emelia Enyonam Kuleke