The President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr Affail Monney, has commended media practitioners and media outlets in the country for the professional manner in which they covered this year’s elections.
While acknowledging that there were some shortfalls in their work, projections and analysis, he said, the quality of coverage and reportage were appreciably high.
Mr Monney was speaking at a forum organised by the GJA and United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to review media coverage of the electionsThe forum which was held at the International Press Centre yesterday, was attended by key industry players who shared ideas and experiences on the elections and matters subsequent.Speakers at the ceremony included the Board Chairman of the Graphic Communications Group Ltd, Prof Kwame Karikari; the Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr Kobby Asmah; the Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Dr Amin Alhassan, and the General Manager of the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Mr Albert Kofi Owusu.
Also present were the Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr George Sarpong; the Dean of the School of Communications, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, and the Executive Director of Pensplusbytes, Ms Juliet Amoah.
Mr Monney said it was normal on occasions such as elections for some journalists and media houses to come under attack by politicians, political parties and their followers, especially when they lost.
And we are also accustomed to the overblown praises that are heaped on the media when political parties win elections.
“On a very serious note, the steep rise in attacks and explosive language used against certain journalists and media houses are unacceptable. The trend calls for the security agencies to step in to ameliorate the situation,” he said.
The GJA President urged journalists to avoid certain areas and also not engage in behaviours that may put them in the line of danger and undermine their professional integrity, stressing that: “Journalists ought to prioritise issues of national interest over their personal gain or biases.
He commended the American Embassy for lending support to train journalists for this year’s elections, noting that the training received was reflected to a large extent in the smooth coverage and professional analysis of the results of this year’s elections.
Fair coverage, press freedom
Prof. Karikari, who is also the Dean of the School of Communications Studies at the Wisconsin University, also commended two state-owned media organisations; the GCGL and the GBC for their fair coverage of the activities of the political parties.
He expressed worry, however, over press freedom in the country, particularly with regard to the practice of investigative journalism.
He said in the last two years investigative journalism had come under serious threat, observing further that the situation was being compounded by some traditional authorities.
He intimated that some traditional authorities had taken it upon themselves to place sanctions on some media practitioners whose reports did not favour them.
Prof Karikari said the results of this year’s elections ought to serve as a lesson to all political parties in the country.
For him, the massive losses and remarkable gains made by some of the political parties must be seriously examined by civil society on why things happened they way they did.
Professor Gadzekpo was of the view that even though there were some lapses in the media’s coverage of this year’s elections, their performance was generally good.
She acknowledged the critical role that the Ghanaian media was playing to sustain the country’s democracy since it returned to democratic rule some 25 years ago.
The Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr Asmah, said media houses needed to cooperate and collaborate on election coverage since no single media house in the country had the required resources to do so single handedly.
“ We need complementary approaches rather than a who-is-first-to-tell-the-story approach if the media are to serve the interest of the nation,” Mr Asmah stated.
On the whole he said Election 2020 was another eye opener for the country, stressing that the country’s democratic journey had once again been enhanced.