A media expert and academic, Prof. Kwame Karikari, has urged the media to strive to uphold the high standards of professionalism and fight against the cheap but attractive path of unprofessional conduct.
That, he said was the only way self-respecting journalists and responsible media organisations could earn back people’s trust and confidence and confront democratic recession in West Africa.
He was speaking at the opening of the two-day regional conference on “The media, press freedom and the democratic recession in West Africa,” in Accra yesterday.
The conference was organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in collaboration with the West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS). Prof. Karikari was speaking on the topic “Confronting the democratic recession in West Africa- The role of the media.”
He indicated that there was the need for media professional associations and human rights advocacy organisations to rekindle their commitment to the fight to protect and defend press freedom across the continent.
“It ought to be appreciated that the media are not a homogenous industry or institution. Indeed, to advance democracy, we must always strive to promote and protect media pluralism, diversity, and principles which are under attack by‘ democracy capture,’” he stated.
“Individual journalists with democratic persuasion must play active roles in their professional associations so as to prevent the high-jacking of their organisations by mercenary agents of the enablers of ‘democracy capture,’” he added;
Prof. Karikari said independent media must also continue to report issues of human rights abuses and support the social justice cause though it was difficult and frightening.
He indicated that these would help end the recession of democracy being experienced on the continent, adding that the conference would “come out with resolutions for strategies to enhance the roles of media in the struggle to defend, promote and strengthen the values, principles and institutions of democracy in our countries.”
Mr Sulemana Braimah, Executive Director, MFWA, said it was imperative for the region to redouble its efforts towards rebuilding and intensifying democracy as there were issues of military takeovers and coups with its attendant calls for constitutions’ amendment in some West African countries.
He emphasised that despite the heckles, democracy remained the most preferred and could not be substituted for any system of governance for which reason all were required to get on board to salvage the situation.
Mr Braimah said it was also necessary for press freedom to be safeguarded as it was fundamental for democracy.
Ambassador Baba Gana Wakil, Resident Representative, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) implored media practitioners to promote rule of law, human rights and democracy by setting the right agenda.
He called on the organisers of the conference to work out a plan to transform the conference into a yearly engagement to continually drive home the need for good governance.
Ambassador Wakil said ECOWAS had always expressed strong commitment to promoting the right to information and strongly believed that the media was an agent of change.
He, therefore, encouraged the media to deal strategically with misinformation and disinformation which could be blamed for the recession of democracy on the continent.
BY ABIGAIL ARTHUR