Journalists cautioned to be circumspect in reportage on conflict

Journalists have been urged to be circumspect in the reportage on conflict issues and situations in order to prevent the escalation of violence in the country.

According to the National Network Coordinator of West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), Mr Albert Yelyang, journalists sometimes rushed to publish stories without cross-checking to ensure accuracy, which could trigger violence.

“We live in a society where sometimes people are not able to manage their emotions well. It is necessary for journalists in the country to ensure that information gathered are accurate and complete, so that reports would not be injurious to the population and cause confusion for everyone.”

Mr Yelyang made the call at a day’s workshop on ‘Conflict Sensitivity in Reporting and Peace Building’, organised here for journalists selected across the country.

The event, which formed part of a governance project under a multi-stakeholder platform on peace and governance, was organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana). 

Mr Yelyang asked journalists to be guided by code of ethics, standards and guidelines of their profession.

“In Ghana, we have different cultural, religious and traditional groups, and so journalists are advised to be conscious of the sensitivity of the issues, considering the people involved, so that they do not instigate one group against the other through their reports,” he said.

Mr Yelyang asked journalists to practice evidence-based and peace building journalism, and eschew publishing falsehood and rumours.

He said, “When journalists report professionally on issues that are accurate, public confidence would be built and we can have a society of people who are not divided and who would peacefully build and develop this country.” 

A peace and governance analyst at the UNDP, Ghana, Ms Melody Azinim, said the training was tailored to build the capacity of journalists, who have a critical role in sustaining and maintaining peace in the country, especially before, during, and after elections.

“When issues occur anywhere, it is the media that gives their voices for others to hear, and so we at the UNDP think it is necessary to build their capacity to become conflict sensitive when reporting on conflict issues, so that they can better help to stabilise peace in the country.”

A research analayst from CDD-Ghana, Mr Mawusi Dumenu, stated that there was misinformation being channeled out to the people, and building the capacity of journalists would assist them to properly package information when reporting on sensitive issues, including conflict.

Caption: Participants and Mr Kojo Impraim, a research and development consultant, first left, Mr Yelyang (third left), next Mr Dumenu, Ms Azinim (first right).

FROM AMA TEKYIWAA AMPADU AGYEMAN, KUMASI

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