Cardinal journalistic function has changed – Prof Millar

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Professor Dr David Millar delivering his lecture
Professor Dr David Millar delivering his lecture

Professor Dr David Millar, the President of the Millar Institute for Transdisciplinary and Development (MITDS) in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region, says, the days when mainstream media decided what is newsworthy is no more.

He said in the digital age, members of the public acted as eyewitnesses, publishers, authors, and increasingly the breakers of news stories.

“The cardinal journalistic function of gatekeeper has changed. Today, the gates remain permanently opened and there is no need for gatekeepers anymore.”

Speaking at the 86th Anniversary lecture of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) in Bolgatanga, on the theme; “GBC @ 86, the role of the public broadcaster in the digital environment,” the Professor said journalistic notions of factual reporting, accuracy, and balance were challenged.

He said such principles were even questioned by the audience that it served with the increasing dominance of social media, adding, “The audience is moving away from being consumers of news to both consumers and producers of news.”

Prof Dr Millar noted that news generated in social media might not present the full picture, as it might be partial, partisan or a deliberately distorted view of an event, “But that is the order of the day, and people are going for it.

“The insistence on the factual, ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ of any news story, which traditionally underpinned journalism, generally has been eroded by digital realities and possibilities. News is no longer what we take time to watch or listen to, news is what we do on the go,” he said.

He said since the drumbeat of journalism had changed, GBC being a public broadcaster also needed to change its dance moves with innovative programming to remain competitive in the digital world.

He said GBC had accordingly managed and launched into the digital space, and currently operates five digital channels, namely; Ghana Television (GTV) Sport plus, GTV Life, GTV Govern, GBC24, Obonu TV, and one analog GTV main.

“GBC also operates 18 Frequency Modulated (FM) Regional radio stations with programmes to suit its clientele across the country, he added.

He said for GBC to succeed, there was the need for more challenging digital programming, which must be balanced and well-coordinated to conform to a tried and tested code of practice and ethics, impeccable and sensitive to the tastes, needs, and sensibilities of its varied audiences.

Mr Ebenezer Kwamina Onumah, the Upper East Regional Director of the GBC, used the opportunity to appeal to stakeholders in the Region to assist the Corporation with a vehicle to facilitate staff mobility into the interior parts of the Region for news.

He said if GBC in the Region was given the needed support from stakeholders, it would double its effort to ensure that activities within the Region were well publicised for the goals and aspirations of the central government to be achieved.

Mr Stephen Yakubu, the Upper East Regional Minister, said GBC was a vehicle for development in the Region as its programmes had the capacity to influence the behavioural pattern of residents of the Region.

Mr Yakubu wished the GBC well, as it celebrated its 86th Anniversary, and GNA

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