RESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM – A KEY TO PEACEFUL ELECTION
– Konadu Sekyere Bertha
The Mass Media is consider as the forth Arm of Government in a
democratic State. The role the media plays toward the progress and
retrogression of the state can’t be joked with.
The media be it electronic or printed has its own way of influencing
In most third world countries where education is less rated, most
people especially the rural folds see the media as the “Christ” hence
whatever they hear from the media is taken as the Gospel truth.
Journalism according to the Wikipedia search is the work and
distribution of reports on the interaction of events, facts, ideas and
people that are the “news of the day” and that informs society to at
least some degree.
Per the definition by wikipedia search, a journalist is a person who
collects, writes or distributes news or other current information.
There cannot be the media without journalist and there cannot be a
journalist without the media.
Chapter 12 of the 1992 constitution of Ghana guarantees Freedom of the
Press and independence of the media. The media in Ghana has gone
through series of metamorphosing phases. However, in 2011, the Freedom
House ranked the media in Ghana as “Free”.
Historically, the media in the Gold Coast first emerged in the 19th
century with the publication of the Gold Coast Gazette and Commercial
Intelligencer in 1822. The paper had several functions; to provide
information for civil servants and European Merchants; and to help
promote literacy rates and rural development among the local
population – while encouraging unity with the Gold Coast government.
In 1935, the Colonial Governor Sir Arnold Hadson introduced the first
radio channel named Radio ZOY.
In the aftermath if independence, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah eventually
controlled all the press in Ghana and saw it as an instrument of State
authority. The media in Ghana had changed operations from civilian to
military government and series of arrest have been ushered on many
media personalities especially critics of the government.
Ace journalist Kwaku Baako and Kwasi Pratt have all suffered arrest in
the course of their duties while some media houses faced closure. For
instance, the Ashanti Pioneer which operated since 1930s was shut down
by Nkrumah after being subject to censorship.
Dr. K. A. Busia’s government repealed various acts and dismissed the
owner of the state owned Daily Graphic for opposing his
Gen. I. K. Acheampong reinstated strict media control and clamped down
opposition outlets. This was among the reasons that led to the
formation of the PMFJ to stand against his UNIGOV government.
Gen. F. W. K. Akuffo’s regime reversed some of his predecessors media
policies and released jailed journalists. This led to the
establishment of two party papers namely “The Star” by the Peoples
Front Party and “The Gong Gong” by the Peoples National Party. Dr.
Hilla Limann’s government advocated for Liberal Media Reforms hence
establishing a 12-member Press Commission on 25th July 1980.
Rawlings PNDC government passed laws that prevented criticisms of
government policies, dismissed editors critical of him and passed
various laws such as Preventive Custody Law and Newspaper Licensing
Law which allowed indefinite detention without trial of journalists
and stifled private media
From 1992 when the forth Republican constitution came into being,
President Rawlings repealed and pledged to Press Freedom. However, the
media did not enjoyed absolute freedom in practicality.
In 2001 when Kuffour’s NPP government came into power, the tension
between private media and the government decreased. Kuffour’s
government was in support of absolute Press Freedom and repealed the
Criminal Libel Law – an initiative championed by Nana Akufo-Addo – the
then Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
Subsequent governments have done well with media freedom however,
there have been some challenges. Some journalists, broadcasters,
social as well as political commentators have taken advantage of the
freedom of the press blend with Freedom of Speech to abuse and taint
the image of the media in Ghana.
Unworthy comments as well as media misreportage have the tendency of
ruining the peace we are praying for in the coming election.
Some media broadcasters and journalists have allowed themselves to be
bought by some politicians to pursue their diabolic course. Listening
to some media stations and their programmes in Ghana is very
unpleasant for the profession. Some media stations (Fm stations, TV
stations and Newspapers) have been set up in Ghana for political
expediency. These media houses uses vulgar languages, propaganda as
well as image and character assassination in pursuance of their
course. These acts are unpleasant and it brings nothing good to the
media credibility other than shame.
A clear case is the case involving the Montie trio (M3) who threatened
the live of the Chief Justice which eventually ended them in Nsawam
The Media Commission must fasten it belt to ensure sanity and decorum
in the airwaves before, during and after the election. The Commission
should as well take bold steps to sanction to punish media houses and
media men who goes contrary to the ethics of the commission.
The Ghana Journalist Association also has a key role to play towards
ensuring peace before, during and after the election. The GJA must
sanction whoever goes contrary to its code of conduct. Both GJA and
GMC must must apply their principles without fear or favour and must
punish the recalcitrants.
While some media broadcasters and journalists have gained ugly face
for the media, others have also done well and they must be commended
for their works. To mention few; Kwaku Baako, Kwame Sefa Kai, Nana
Ansah Kwaw, Paul Adom Ochere, Gifty Anti, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, Fiifi
Boafo, Manasseh Azuri Awuni, Kwabena Yeboah, Nana Aba Anamoah and
among other few. They must be commended for executing the media work
Konadu Sekyere Bertha
Global Multimedia College
Accra – Ghana.