President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged African media practitioners not to sacrifice integrity and the future of their respective societies on the altar of “instant scoop or ill-considered publication”
The media, he said, should only be concerned about reporting the facts and “must not and cannot take the national cohesion of our countries and their stability for granted.”
The President made the call when he addressed the opening of the two-day African Journalists Leadership’ Conference, organised by the Federation of African Journalists in Accra on Tuesday.
The Conference, which brings together leaders of regional and national media organizations across Africa, will discuss strategies to promote press freedom and shape the media industry, as well propose steps to enhance the working conditions of journalist on the continent.
Held on the theme: “Building Stronger Unions to Enhance Journalism and Media Freedom”, the conference is expected to come out with a Declaration which will articulate the future direction of journalism in Africa.
Noting the immeasurable power the media wielded to build the confidence and values of societies and their institutions, President Akufo-Addo said the conference should also seek to address the phenomena of misinformation campaigns and fake news, propagated most times by some in the media.
“The tendency to report on only one side of a story and pass judgment on it without wanting to learn or give a fair amount of reportage to the other side stifles the truth… The media should only be concerned about reporting the facts and should not lend themselves to being bought or being used to destroy the reputation of others,” he stressed.
The President further urged journalists on the continent to use their influence to build the confidence and values of societies and their institutions, and enjoined them not to sacrifice the integrity and future of their societies for any any consideration whatsoever.
On the liberty of the media, President Akufo-Addo stressed that the critiques preferred by citizens and officialdom on the work undertaken by the media can in no way be described as “an attack on media freedom”.
He indicated that when journalists are physically attacked or prevented from doing their work, no matter where in the world it takes place, that is an attack on media freedom, and must be roundly condemned by all.
The President noted however that critiquing the work of a journalist cannot constitute an attack on media freedom, saying, “That certainly cannot be described as an attack on media freedom.”
“Having the freedom to criticize and oppose should also mean that the media is ready to accept and work with criticisms of its work by the citizenry or officialdom. That, for me, is one of the surest ways of improving the public discourse of our respective countries, and we should all strive towards realizing this.”
President Akufo-Addo assured the Conference of his commitment to empowering the citizen, media and civil society, “So we can all play our roles in realizing our vision of building a progressive and prosperous Ghana.”
“As President of Ghana, I assure you that the Ghanaian people will continue to exercise their right to free expression to the very end, because of their determination to build a free, open society with accountable governance, no matter the cost,” he added.