The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah has appealed to journalists to be bold, truthful, professional and decorous in their reportage and avoid the propagation or spreading of fake news.
“Endeavour to pay attention to the ethical considerations that govern your noble profession. The public, who are your major stakeholders are the best judges and they will judge you by your work and output,” he stated.
Mr Oppong-Nkrumah made the appeal on Thursday in a speech read on his behalf on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary Celebration of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in Accra.
The occasion, which was on the theme “Democracy, Freedoms and Independence of the Media”, focused on the history of the Association and praised the sacrifices and the magnificent vision of all founding fathers and mothers who established the Africa Press Association, the precursor of the GJA on 15th August, 1949.
Mr Oppong-Nkrumah said government recognises the role of journalists and the media as the fourth estate and had taken bold steps towards putting in place structures to strengthen the environment within which they operate.
He said after several years, the Right to Information Act had finally been passed and duly assented to by the President.
“This regime is important, especially to you journalists, as it will ensure the growth of our democracy, enhance your performance as journalists, make citizens knowledgeable and inform the citizens of our governance and development.”
He said Government was also working with the press, as key partners and stakeholders, to establish a mechanism for the safety of journalists in Ghana.
Mr Oppong-Nkrumah said the objective was to provide a well-coordinated and sufficient support system to journalists in the conduct of their duty.
He said stakeholder consultations had commenced and efforts would be expedited to finalise and operationalise the mechanism.
He said there were several more initiatives being worked on, adding that, collectively, they seek to enhance the media landscape.
Mr Affail Monney, the President of the GJA, said the Association at 70 was not only poised to mount an iron-clad defence of press freedom in Ghana, but also determined to repurpose journalism to tackle social needs and governance issues.
He said the Association had started pursuing projects on sanitation, road safety and inclusive development.
He said media houses like TV3, Citi FM, Peace FM and Joy FM, which were supposed to operate within the confines of commercial imperatives were making room for issues on sanitation, road safety and indiscipline.
“This is highly commendable. We appeal to all media houses to get on board,” Mr Monney stated.
He said despite the press freedom the country was enjoying, the GJA was overly worried and deeply concerned about the vertiginous climb in the number of attacks against journalists in recent times.
Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh, the Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), who delivered the keynote address at the event, said the media played a crucial role in deepening representative democracy in every nation.
He said civil society would stand with the GJA to safe guard the hard-won press freedom in the country.
Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere, a retired diplomat and a former Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), who gave an overview of the historical perspective of the GJA, paid tribute to people who had played diverse roles in the evolution of the GJA from 1949 to date.
He said the Fourth Republican constitution had created the atmosphere for press freedom, however, what was left for the press to do was responsible journalism.
Ambassador David Anaglate, a former Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), who chaired the function, recounted that freedom of the press in Ghana did not come on a silver platter.
He urged the NMC to protect press freedom and intervene in the matter of the closure of Radio Gold and others by the National Communications Authority.