Media Must Serve Public Good

The free flow of information in any society promotes transparency and accountability in the use of public resources. It is for this reason that the drafters of the 1992 Constitution devoted a whole chapter to the freedom and independence of the media.

Article 162 Clause (1) of the Constitution guarantees the freedom and independence of the media and also frowns on media censorship.

Clause (5) of the same article makes it clear that “all agencies of the mass media shall, at all times, be free to uphold the principles, provisions and objectives of the Constitution and shall uphold the responsibilities and accountability of the government to the people of Ghana”.

The media have been offering their platform to all the people to express themselves on the governance process.

Through the media the people are able to appreciate the programmes of the government and other policy makers with the view to carrying a feedback to the governors.

The power of the media has never been in doubt, but it came to the fore in the last eight months during the election petition hearing.

The petitioners and the respondents used the media platform, besides the court forum, to engage the bar of public opinion on their issues.

Our first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, said the media had great power to do good, but they had greater power to cause harm if the platform was not used responsibly.

Thanks to the decision of the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Wood, GTV was able to bring proceedings in the court to the homes, offices, marketplaces and communities for the people to appreciate them.

We have demonstrated to the whole world that we prefer to use the rule of law to resolve our grievances, as against the resort to self-help that has led to violence in some countries.

Consequently, the whole world is looking up to Ghana to use the election petition to deepen democratic practice on the African continent.

Regrettably, the petition has claimed its own casualties, with the conviction of four persons for contempt of the Supreme Court.

When President John Mahama raised issues with the format used in most of the morning shows on radio and television in the country during a meeting with the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) earlier this year, some people were offended.

The country is faced with many challenges, especially in the health, educational and industrial sectors, and opinion leaders can leverage the power of the media to seek some answers to the problems.

That is why we need to spare a thought for the admonition by Professor Lewis Smith, an American lecturer in Journalism, who is visiting Ghana under the auspices of the African University College of Communications (AUCC).

He said at a public lecture in Accra last Tuesday that editors and media owners should give some attention to development issues and matters bordering on the welfare of the underprivileged in society.

In our present dispensation, the media cannot afford to relegate politics to the background because they must throw the searchlight on the people who want to lead. The media must also hold such public officials accountable, so that public resources will be used for the good of society.

The Daily Graphic thinks a very careful balance of reportage on all the issues will promote the desirable change in society.