Media Foundation resumes monitoring of intemperate language

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has resumed its monitoring of intemperate language on the airwaves project to enhance professionalism and reduce hate speech on radio.

The project, which begins today, will have the foundation carrying out daily monitoring of expressions used on key programmes on 26 radio stations across the country.

The project, being funded by STAR-Ghana, would be rolled out over the next three months – August 1 to October 31, 2013, and the findings of the monitoring would be issued as weekly reports and communicated to the public through the media to name and shame the culprits.

The project would involve the daily monitoring of expressions used by politicians and activists in discussions and comments on the proceedings and rulings of the Supreme Court on 26 selected radio stations across the country.

The MFWA introduced a similar project last year ahead of the 2012 election campaign with the aim of cleaning up the airwaves of foul language and hate speech through a rating regime for media houses and radio presenters.

The initiative became a reference point for clean campaigning as politicians and social commentators who fouled the airwaves were named and shamed.

Launching the project ahead of the 2012 presidential petition verdict, Deputy Executive Director of the MFWA, Mr  Sulemana Braimah, said “the exercise is aimed at enhancing professionalism and reducing incidence of hate speech and pro-violence expressions in the media to contribute to mitigating violence during and after the adjudication of the 2012 election petition by the Supreme Court.”

With concerns being raised about possible violence after the court delivers its verdict, Mr Braimah said the project would involve activities aimed at sensitising the public to accept the verdict of the Supreme Court in good faith.

“This will be done in collaboration with moderators of current affairs and political discussion programmes on the selected stations,” he stated.

As part of the project, there will also be bi-weekly radio discussion programmes to provide a platform for language experts to discuss the weekly reports and educate the public on the effects of indecent expressions on national peace and stability.

Mr Braimah said as part of the initial activities, a comprehensive monitoring instrument had been developed with the support of language and communication experts and media practitioners.

He said an evaluation of the previous project showed that it made a lot of impact.

“Somebody was commissioned to do a research about  people’s perceptions and views about the project and the findings showed that 90 per cent of the respondents, including media personnel, political parties leaders and religious groups, described the project as one of the most impactful projects  as far as contributing to a peaceful elections in Ghana last year was concerned.”

He said the relaunch had become necessary given “what people felt about the project as something that really contributed to getting people to moderate  the way they communicate within the public realm, it was important that we reintroduce it so that the same impact could be repeated”.

Media critics have, on occasions, condemned the media for giving people the platform to pollute the airwaves with foul language.

With a call for a broadcasting law yet to bear fruits, a section of the Ghanaian media has been chastised for operating without standards.

That criticism, Mr Braimah said, could be a thing of the past if the media worked within a set of code of ethics

“As a profession, the media’s work is guided by a code of ethics. It is not as though the media is operating in a vacuum, but rather working with the code of ethics.”

“That should be the reference point of the media at all times. The media has to make sure that they are operating within the confines of the code of ethics,” he said

With the Supreme Court girding its loins to deliver its judgment on the presidential election petition, Mr Braimah said  the media must  ensure that the court process went on and ended up being a credit to Ghana’s democracy, rather than something that would derail the country’s peace and democracy.

“Media organisations have to dedicate some airtime and space to ensure that citizens are educated  and get to better understand what  the court processes are all about, “he said

Seth J. Bokpe/Daily Graphic/Ghana

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