Robert Carlson, Political Officer at the US Embassy in Accra said though Ghana’s news media have proven their worth in the African region with respect to press freedom, there was a possibility of improvement.
This assumption, he indicated was based on some cases of TV crews and photographers who were threatened and arrested for publishing investigations which exposed corrupt practices of public office holders.
“Your colleagues are under extreme pressures in many of the world’s countries. There are some governments that simply harass or intimidate them; there are other governments that imprison and torture them; and there are some governments that execute journalists for having written or spoken the truth,” the Political Officer cited.
Mr. Carlson was addressing some working and student journalists Monday to commemorate this year’s World Press Freedom Day on the topic “Journalists and Press Freedom”.
Meanwhile, the 2014 celebration was on the theme: “Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the post-2015 Development Agenda”.
He continued that “a free press is one of the most vital ingredients for any functioning democracy. For this reason, the men who founded the United States ensured that freedom of expression was the very first guarantee of our constitution. It is also why the media are often referred to as the Fourth Estate.”
Mr. Carlson further argued that “there may be three branches of government in a typical democracy, but where would we be if there were not objective journalists and investigative reporters to hold our elected leaders accountable?”
Adding that just like striving for the goal of democracy was always an evolutionary process, which got loud and messy sometimes, press freedom often followed this trajectory as well.
“For a political officer at any U.S. diplomatic mission, the news as reported by journalists is normally the first way by which we find out about important events and developments. I have been in Ghana seven-and-a-half months now, and I have to say that I am very happy to see how vibrant and free the news media are here. Like your fellow citizens, I rely on you not only for a recounting of what has happened, but also for an analysis,” he remarked.
He stressed that for good governance to exist, journalists would have to be free from any pressure and political interference in order to monitor, investigate and criticize policies and actions.
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