Alhaji Mohammed Nurudeen Issahaq, the Acting General Manager of the GNA, said since elections are an essential part of every democratic process the Agency has an important role to play in ensuring a successful outcome in the December general election.
“To this end, therefore, we are embarking on what we dubbed, the ‘One Ghana’ initiative in support of the ongoing nationwide campaign to ensure a free, fair, peaceful and credible general election on December 7,” he said during a three-day workshop for editors, reporters, stringers, technical and administrative staff of the nation’s only wire service at Koforidua.
The workshop is also part of the “GNA Tracks Election 2016 Project”, being funded by GOIL, the state oil company and CIMG 2015 Petroleum Company of the year.
The project seeks to sensitize the electorate on the various issues raised by political parties, the elections management body and other governance institutions.
It aims at ensuring gender and social inclusion in national politics and to provide voice for the youth, vulnerable groups, opinion leaders and the broader spectrum of the society, and to contribute to the achievement of peaceful polls.
Another objective of the project is to create a platform to dissect the manifestoes of all political parties and provide in-depth analysis of each thematic area to the electorate to enable them to make an informed judgment.
Participants at the event were drawn from the Greater Accra, Volta, Eastern, Central and Western Regions.
A similar workshop has already been organised at Abesim near Sunyani for participants from the Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Northern, Upper East and West Regions.
Alhaji Issahaq said the GNA has a strong tradition as a credible independent medium that has created the platform for all segments of society to air their views as part of its commitment to mobilise the people for national image building and the growth of the culture of democracy in Ghana.
“Our journalists and stringers have it as an obligation to disseminate truthful, accurate and unbiased news to our subscribers,” he said.
“GNA’s stories should be fair to all political and independent candidates so as to create a level playing field that would enhance the credibility of the poll and make its outcome acceptable to all stakeholders,” the General Manager said.
He said stories, features and analysis produced by journalists should aim at reducing conflict and contribute to peace-building efforts through the application of ethical and professional standards as stipulated in the guidelines of the National Media Commission, the Ghana Journalists Association and the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association.
“In going about our coverage of the forthcoming elections, let us emphasize more on the media’s role in conflict prevention, peace-building and reconciliation rather than use the power at our disposal to incite violence. That is what the ‘One Ghana’s campaign is all about, ” he said.
“We owe it as a moral duty to preserve and keep this nation of ours together in one piece, both during and after the elections,” he said.
Alhaji Issahaq reminded participants that in all that they do in this political season, to keep in mind the credibility of GNA and their own personal integrity.
The General Manager said it is the mandate of GNA journalists to ensure that Ghana remains united and integrated and “it is for this reason that the Agency has national cohesion, national unity and national integration as its guiding principles”.
Mr Mawusi Afele, a former General Manager of the GNA urged journalists to be very circumspect in their political reportage, since they could easily be swayed by them; declaring that “politicians all over the world are the same”.
He urged journalists to acquaint themselves with electoral reporting guidelines, basic news reporting techniques and read widely to improve their grammar.