The Chairman of the National Media Commission has called on the media to be responsible in the discharge of its duties.
“Freedom without responsibility is futile. At all times freedom and responsibility must go hand in hand,” Mr. Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh told a team of media practitioners Friday, at the back of World Press Freedom Day.
World Press Freedom Day
This year’s World Press Freedom Day is being marked in Ethiopia under the theme “Media for Democracy, Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.”
Since the repeal of the criminal libel law in 2001, there has been a remarkable expansion in media outlets in Ghana. According to the National Communications Authority, there are 392 operational radio stations in Ghana and 128 licensed TV operators.
Increased freedom must be balanced with responsibility
Giving his remarks as chairman of the Seminar organised by the Ghana Journalists Association to mark the press day, Ayeboafoh said increased media freedom must be balanced with media responsibility.
According to him if the media discharges its responsibility the way it has been trained to do, it can expect reciprocity from the public who confides in it.
“If we say we are media people and we are not trusted by the people we are working with, then we ceased to have impact and meaning within that environment,” he told the meeting which included the GJA President, Affail Monney.
Recent disturbances in the media landscape
Recent disturbing developments in the media landscape, culminating in a drop in Ghana’s ranking on the world press freedom index, have revived calls for better protection for practitioners.
This year, Tiger Eye PI staff, Ahmed Hussein Suale, was assassinated whilst journalists with the New Times Corporation were also physically assaulted by some police officers.
These incidents, according to media activists, require media owners and state agencies to ensure journalists are safe on the job as the world marks press freedom day today.
Espousing on media responsibility
Expounding on the media responsibility concept, Mr. Boadu Ayeboafoh said that, such responsibility should include empaneling of the right resource people for media engagements, especially in the electronic media.
“Over concentration of political activists in almost every programme that we run, irrespective of their competence and capacity to understand and appreciate the issues that we are discussing, is becoming so dysfunctional that the time has come to discourage that,” he urged.
One of the mandates that has been given to the media in the constitution is to hold the government accountable to the people of this country. “When we take sides on partisan basis we do not only lose our professionalism we become stooges in the eyes of people,” he said.
According to Mr. Boadu Ayeboafoh, it is the responsibility of the media to ensure that political leaders do not abandon projects started by their predecessors.
Others on the role of the media
On her part, Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, Dean of the School of Communication, University of Ghana, Legon, has called for some level of media advocacy to ensure that public office holders are held to account for their actions beyond reporting the facts of their stewardship.
Although she conceded that doing this may not be smooth sailing as some media houses are either politically tainted or are owned by active politicians. She is comforted by the fact that there are objective media houses whose professionalism will balance the narrative to serve the public good. She spoke on the Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Friday.
In a message commemorating the day, the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress, John Dramani Mahama said: “On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, I say ayekoo to all journalists and urge governments and security agencies to guarantee their safety in the discharge of their work.”
A government statement also added: “The Government of Ghana reiterates its commitment to supporting measures that deepen the frontiers of free expression in the advancement of our democracy.”