20 journalists and media communicators awarded MCBIRD fellowship

Twenty Ghanaian journalists and media communicators were over the weekend awarded fellowship of the Media Capacity Building Initiative for Reporting on Disability (MCBIRD).

The fellows, selected from over 100 applicants, received citations of honour for their contributions towards projecting the voices of marginalised groups especially Persons With Disability (PWDs) and promoting their inclusion in society.

Overall, broadcast journalist with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Beatrice Senadju and an editor with Kumasi-based Ultimate FM, Ivan Korshie Heathcote-Fumador, were adjudged Best Journalist in Disability Reporting and Best Journalist Living with Disability, respectively.

An initiative of the Young Africa Media Centre (YAMC), under the auspices of the United States (US) Embassy in Ghana, MCBIRD provides residential training to build the capacity of journalists in providing comprehensive reportage on disability.

Speaking at the awards ceremony to climax the programme, the Western Regional Minister, KwabenaOkyereDarko-Mensah, urged journalists to generate public opinion in favour of PWDs to challenge duty-bearers to act on issues affecting them.

He said, besides projecting stories that made PWDs appear pitiful, it was important that the media portray the potential and abilities of such persons to change negative public perceptions about them.

“In modern times, media can play a very important and powerful role to address issues of stigma, discrimination, stereotyping among other challenges facing PWDs and may motivate legislators, policymakers, opinion leaders etc to take needed actions concerning them,” he said.

The Minister, congratulating fellows and awardees, charged them to work harder with the added knowledge received during the two-day residential training to generate positive discussion on PWDs.

”The voice that you have as the media should be used for the benefit of all the people you represent and I believe you will continue to work harder with no fear and discrimination as our country’s Constitution demands to ensure the full inclusion of PWDs,” he said.

The Representative of the US Ambassador, Ms Victoria Oliver said the US Embassy supported the initiative to champion the course of disability reporting “because we recognise the inherent value of PWDs as individuals and acknowledge the collective value of their contributions and their participation in schools, workplaces and communities everywhere.”

She expressed the US Embassy’s commitment to fostering capacity building to advancing the rights of PWDs in the country.

“We are super proud of you our fellows this year and as society looks up to you, so do we,” she charged.

The General Manager for the YAMC, Mr Stephen SelasieAsuo, noted the need to equip journalists with right skills and knowledge to accurately report on issues of disability.

He was hopeful MCBIRD would gradually engender a pool of well-informed, passionate and driven journalists to throw the needed spotlight on disability.


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