Mr Affail Monney, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has called on government to consider stimulus package for the media houses in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Monney said: “it is justified and logical for the GJA to make a strong and urgent appeal for media houses to be considered in the stimulus package. Provision of PPEs and transport for journalists by way of Ayalolo buses or other means should also be given a topmost priority.”
Speaking at a conference jointly held by the GJA, Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) Association of Women in the Media (ASWIM) and Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG) in Accra, Mr Monney whiles commending journalists for their frontal role in the battle against COVID-19, urged them to internalize safety protocols and reflect on them at all times.
The press conference was to highlight on the media’s sacrifice and response to COVID-10 pandemic.
The GJA President recounted the numerous chorus praises for the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for his inspirational leadership and incredible budget which had crystalized into quality public health governance by the national COVID-19 Response Team even under challenging circumstances.
He noted that those points could, however, not be articulated and accomplished without the “oxygen of publicity and the degree of education the media had copiously provided.”
He recalled that the naked truth, perhaps, explained the “simmering discontent in certain media circles over the lack of recognition of the media by the highest office of the land for their inestimable sacrifice and immeasurable contribution to the fight against coronavirus.”
Mr Monney said GJA takes note of the fact that “This is not the time to prize recognition over responsibility.”
According to him, the media have constitutional, professional, ethical, moral and godly responsibilities to champion the national interest in these critical times and the national interest dictates that journalists should be disinclined to be deflected from aiding the COVID-19 war maximally with all the arsenals at their disposal.
He said the media did not need any redefinition or reclassification as frontline workers adding that: “It would be superfluous to do so.”
He noted that many media houses were financially disabled and logically handicapped and their plight had been worsened by dwindling, revenue stream, swingering expenditure cuts and debilitating job losses.
These notwithstanding, the GJA President said journalists continually face life-threatening risk, as they interview infected persons, follow contact tracers, publicize frontline workers, intensify public education and amplify the drumbeat on the dangers of the pandemic.
Mrs. Mavis Kitcher, President of ASWIM, lauded the role media women were playing in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic noting that members have not reneged on their roles.
She commended government for the interventions rolled out in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic and appealed to the public to adhere to protocols rolled out by government.
She said ASWIM would be embarking on public education on COVID-19 with the Information Services Department in some markets in Accra.
Mrs Kitcher appealed to government to support the media as some newspapers were struggling to make sales.
Mr Andrew Edwin Arthur, President of PRINPAG urged government and corporate institutions to consider including frontline media practitioners in the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), to enable them arm themselves adequately to lend support to other stakeholders.
“This important because, it is the work that we do as media practitioners, that keep everybody informed of the levels of the pandemic in this country and the need to stay safe to avoid the contraction of the disease.”
Mr. Arthur called on government to consider setting up a COVID-19 Media Alleviation Fund in line with what has been established as National Trust Fund.
According to him, the COVID-19 Media Alleviation Fund should be managed by an independent body, which would receive proposals and vet them and decide on which support is appropriate for an individual organization.
He said the same body should institute insurance packages out of the fund to support media practitioners.
“PRINPAG believes that these would go a long way to embolden Ghana’s media,” he added.
Ms Gloria Hiadzi, Executive Secretary of GIBA reiterated the need for government to support the media with some stimulus packages to ehance and motivate them whiles they discharge their duties effectively during this abnormal times of COVID-19