Nana Ama Dokua Asiamah-Adjei, a Deputy of Information Minister, has hailed the impeccable role the media is playing in informing, educating and sensitizing the Ghanaians on the COVID-19 pandemic.
She noted that every now and then media’s mandate of informing the people was being tested when new challenges confront the world; adding that since January, the COVID-19 pandemic had revealed yet again the key role of a free press in tackling societal problems.
Speaking on Monday at the flag-raising ceremony to mark World Press Freedom Day in Accra, Madam Asiamah-Adjei said the media’s constant education on the observation of safety protocols, coverage of the national updates and features on case management were worth commending. “The good people of this country appreciate your sacrifices.”
The event, which was organised by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in collaboration with the UNESCO, was on the theme: “Journalism Without Fear or Favour’.
The annual celebration fell on Sunday, May 3rd, serves as an occasion to inform citizens of the violations of press freedom.
In 1993, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 3 May as World Press Freedom Day following a recommendation adopted at the 26th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991.
The Deputy Minister said COVID-19 was also having an immense impact on the global and the Ghanaian economies.
She recalled that on March 30, in a statement to Parliament, the Finance Minister said preliminary analysis indicates between 2.6 per cent and 1.5 per cent decline in gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the event of a partial lockdown.
She said knowing the net effect of the decline in GDP growth of the real sector, the impact on the economy is bound to be huge and affect revenue generation by the State.
“One cannot talk about the devastating effect of the pandemic without touching on its impact on the media,” she said.
“We acknowledge that media business is a high contact engagement. From the content production and news gathering processes to marketing, promotion and sales.”
Madam Asiamah-Adjei said the impact of COVID-19 on the media industry was being examined by Government and would be addressed within the broader Government Economic Response Programme to be announced later.
She said in this competitive environment of journalism, the public, who were media’s major stakeholders were the best judges and they would judge them by their work and output.
“We should, therefore, not be swayed by invitations to sensationalism, the use of intemperate language or the desire to force our personal opinions down everyone’s throat.”
Mr Abdourahamane Diallo, UNESCO Country Representative to Ghana: “UNESCO believes that a free and independent press is essential at all times, but is particularly important during a health crisis such as the one we are currently experiencing”.
“At a time when many seek information primarily online, the role of professional journalists, is to help sort through the flow and provide necessary guidance.
However, it is important to help the media and journalists report on the crisis effectively and safely, and to promote critical thinking to limit the spread of rumours and misinformation”.
Mr Affail Monney, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), said the theme of the celebration reinforces the point that journalism was not a profession for timid, timorous souls but one for brave and uncompromising characters.
He said this tough, indomitable streak enables some leading journalists to talk true to power, expose acts of corruption and hold the powerful to account.
He said: “Press freedom is a liberty and not a license – liberty to perform and not license to destroy. The offenders must take note and repent.”
He reiterated the indispensable role the media is playing in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh, the Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), cautioned journalists not to allow themselves to be used as conduits for the propagation of fake news.