General News of Saturday, 4 March 2017
The government will revamp the Media Development Fund (MDF) to encourage journalists to upgrade their knowledge, the Information Minister, Mr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, has said.
He said the critical role the media played in enhancing democratic governance and socio-economic development required journalists to be empowered to provide relevant and accurate information for the public.
“The fact that the world has come to agree that freedom of information is the fundamental difference between dictatorial and democratic regimes means that a conducive atmosphere ought to be created for journalists to upgrade themselves,” Mr Abdul-Hamid said at the launch of the 60th anniversary of the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra yesterday.
Present at the launch were the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr Roland Affail Monney, some board members and management of GNA, as well as officials of the Ministry of Information.
Former President John Mahama had announced the establishment of the fund when he was the Vice-President at the 16th GJA Awards on September 9, 2011.
A former Minister of Finance, Dr Kwabena Duffuor, later announced the allocation of GH¢1 million to the fund in the 2012 budget statement to Parliament.
Some individuals and organisations, however, raised eyebrows when it was later realised that proceeds from the fund had been used to purchase 140 laptops for the GJA.
That development stirred controversy, as the Media Foundation for West Africa (MfWA), the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) and other organisations expressed reservations about the alleged mismanagement of the fund.
Mr Abdul-Hamid said the government would collaborate with the GJA and other media regulatory bodies to come up with better ways of applying the fund, stressing that “the MDF should rather be an avenue for journalists to upgrade their knowledge”.
He urged journalists to strive to put out the right information that would promote national cohesion, instead of resorting to reportage that would polarise the people along partisan and ethnic lines.
“Once your byline appears, people associate the content of the story with your personality. We cannot be putting out junk because we are supposed to mirror society. So you need to read and get comprehensive knowledge of what you write,” he advised journalists.
The minister commended the GNA for living up to the information needs of the country, despite the daunting challenges it faced, and asked the management of the country’s cable wire service (CWS) to be proactive and adopt innovative strategies to survive the threats posed by the digital world.
A retired Head of Editorial at the GNA, Mr Isaac Fritz Andoh, said the agency was a national asset that ought to be supported to build a robust information base for the country.
“There should be serious brainstorming on the way forward to make the GNA return to the glory days. The infrastructure challenge ought to be addressed, while putting in place proactive measures relevant in the globalised world,” he said.
Mr Andoh also advised journalists to rise above mediocrity by striving to meet the tenets of journalism, which required a good blend of speed and accuracy in the line of duty.