GJA’s timely and appropriate advice to the media on COVID-19 reportage

Perhaps one of the most challenging tasks I have to perform as a father was the explanation I had to give on the coronavirus outbreak and why my son cannot attend school yesterday until further notice.

My son woke up in the morning to prepare for school and I had to explain to him that whilst he was asleep, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced the closure of schools from kindergarten to university due to the outbreak.

I had to explain to him the seriousness of the situation and at the same time level him up to understand why the President took the decision and not to be sensational about it.

I had a responsibility to explain the emergency situation responsibly so as not to create fear and panic in the house.

Although I managed to get him to understand the issues at stake, I realised that it is not difficult for parents in my shoe to sensationalise the situation that could lead to fear and panic.

This is what the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) was advising all journalists against in their statement issued in Accra.

The media, it advised, must bear in mind that the republic relies on them for information to decide on precautionary measures to take in times like these.

The GJA advised journalists to use reliable scientific sources in their reportage and avoid speculations and fear induced vocabulary that could induce fear and panic.

Indeed, in times like these, some journalists and social media depend on rumours, gossip and speculations to write sensational headlines to attract readership and traffic.

The advice by the GJA, therefore, is timely as it would ensure that journalists who report on the coronavirus do so responsibly and recklessly.

The coronavirus is spreading across the world and the media have become the major source of information and, therefore, if they put information that is inaccurate and sensational, that may cause more harm than good.

The advice is timely as well as appropriate and we hope that the media would heed the advice by constantly informing the public about the human side of the pandemic without endangering them.

We stand with the GJA because the coronavirus in itself is as fearful as the misinformation and therefore it is important that the reportage be accurate and non-sensational.

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