Media Urged To Ask Tough Questions
According to him, journalists gave members of the executives the lean way to take cover for critical issues such as the Woyome financial scandal.
Speaking at a review meeting of the media’s performance in the 2012 elections in Kumasi, Dr. Baah disclosed that the media allowed itself to be used to offer handmaiden’s services for the two dominant political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
This, he observed, was as a result of the apologetic and sycophantic behaviour of some media practitioners towards officialdom.
‘You must be critical of who is in government and not the opposition. Election is a referendum on the sitting president, and so the media should have taken President John Mahama to task when he promised to end the load shedding of the electricity,’ he noted.
Dr. Baah added, ‘Your job is a pseudo-official job, which means that if you don’t do your work well in terms of asking the tough questions the whole society will not work; that is why sometimes we say the media is the fourth estate of the realm.’
The KNUST lecturer said the Woyome scandal, which centered on corruption, was treated like any other issue by the media and moderators of the IEA presidential debate.
‘When we are having an election and there is a debate, it is the sitting president to beat. It is a referendum on his performance, whether he did well and he should be allowed to continue or not. And yet because we were so apologetic we never asked the tough question.’
‘You can ask the sitting president about a judgment debt and ask an aspirant the same question. No, one wants to get in and another is already in,’ he pointed out.
According to Dr. Baah, ‘The sitting president should have been asked what happened for the judgment debt to be incurred and the aspirant what would he do for this not to happen.’
The forum, held under the theme: Review of the Media’s Performance in the 2012 Elections and the Lessons for the Future, was organized by the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA), in collaboration with the KAB Governance Consult.
Kwasi Gyan Apenteng, GJA representative on the National Media Commission (NMC), was full of praise for the media, asserting that the Ghanaian media is crucial to the development of democracy in the country.
According to him, the media performed its traditional role of informing voters about real issues, electoral process and political campaigns as well as investigating and monitoring the process of the elections in general.
He said the media was socially and culturally responsible.
‘The media showed respect to cultural diversity by setting the contest for discussions. This is a major contribution,’ he added.
Mr. Apenteng however stated that the media was partisan and could not pass the impartiality test.
In his view, parliament, which should have undertaken non-partisan discussion of national issues, has been shunted into the channel of partisan coloration, polarizing the country further.
He urged the country’s media practitioners to plan their work, seek knowledge to understand the legal regimes and adhere to the ethical behaviour of the profession.
The review meeting, which is the first of its kind, was to guide journalists into the future about election coverage, GJA General Secretary, Bright Blewu stated.
According to him, practitioners used the important forum to do a postmortem of their activities to enhance the credibility of the media.
From Ernest Kofi Adu, Kumasi