The National Media Commission (NMC) Chairman Kabral Blay-Amihere wants media associations to refocus to enhance the professional scope and competence of their members.
‘It will be a great pity if the only significant event on the calendar of the GJA remains its annual awards ceremony and the celebration of World Press Freedom Day…GJA must be at the forefront of organizing seminars and workshops that address issues of professional standards in order to manage issues,’ he emphasized.
Celebrated under the theme: ‘Development journalism, media safety and integrity,’ the World Press Freedom Day, which was set aside by the United Nations, provides an opportunity to highlight the fundamental principles of press freedom.
Mr. Blay-Amihere said conflicts and political impunity in some countries have made journalists endangered species, stating that in some instances, the courts are used to harass and frighten journalists from pursuing their legitimate business of reporting all the news.
‘In Ghana, although our constitution continues to guarantee freedom of the press, several reported cases of assault and threats by members of the security agencies and some sections of the public is hindering media freedom and Ghana’s reputation as a model for democracy.
He said ‘we should always condemn any form of assault, intimidation that does not help the growth of the press.’
He bemoaned the lack of solidarity in the media landscape, saying ‘anytime one of their members is attacked, with the arsenal of media power at their disposal, the media by showing solidarity through sustained campaigns against those who attack any of their members can contain the culture of violence against the media.
‘What we see sadly in Ghana is that each besieged media house left to cry its own cry. Sometimes, even victims of such assault fail to give the incident the full publicity it deserves in order to mobilize public opinion.’
He said the time has come for journalists to also reflect on their own commitment to ethical journalism.
It is when journalists respect the core values of the profession such as fairness, accuracy, objectivity and truthfulness that they can together confront the imposition of heavy fines in libel cases that potentially threaten the existence of the media, he indicated.
Felix Kwakye Ofosu, a Deputy Minister of Information and Media Relations, rekindled the Media Fund debate and insisted that the fund is not intended to influence the media to pander to the dictates of the government.
He said the various media associations were not proactive in the disbursement of the fund which generated public uproar, adding ‘the fund has not been mismanaged as alleged in the media.’
‘One can perhaps argue that the use to which it was put the last time could have been better. You can say that rather than purchasing ICT gadgets to assist the work of media practitioners, we could perhaps have invested it in further training and capacity building. That argument is entirely separate from saying that the resources that came or accrued to the fund were misapplied or in some instances, it has been alleged that it has been embezzled and that is an unfortunate perception.’
He said an accounting framework exist to ensure accountability and urged stakeholders not to take entrenched positions on the way forward for the fund.
Affail Monney, President of the GJA, tasked journalists to be committed to the concept of development.
Nii Laryea Sowah, a representative of private newspapers PRINPAG, said the format for the celebration should change to embrace what he called radical way of tackling problems confronting media freedom.
By William Yaw Owusu
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