The National Peace Council (NPC) has urged media owners and editors to work towards sustaining the peace of the nation during the events of the 2020 General Election and thereafter to advance the nation’s and democracy and development.
At a media engagement in Accra, The Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante, Chairman of the NPC, said it was important to maximise the media’s huge influence in the shaping of public opinion and articulation, to sanitise political discourse and promote responsible behaviour for the common good.
The NPC, organised the event with the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), for media owners and editors, to think through how the media’s role in fostering national cohesion, development and sustainable peace could be strengthened, especially during the political season.
The Most Rev. Asante said the next general election could not be taken for granted to pass off peacefully if media houses continued to offer their platforms for the trading of hate speeches and insults, maligning of political opponents, the broadcast of rumours, biased and distorted truths, and fake news.
Media stakeholders should guard against satisfying the wishes of media owners – concerned only with promoting their political ideologies, destroying their opponents and making money at the expense of national integration peace and development.
Practitioners must also not allow manipulation and the pressure from a superior to omit or add an item to the truth in a story to fit an agenda.
They should uphold the highest professional standards of truth, objectivity, neutrality, fairness and accuracy.
Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, the Dean of the School of Information and Communication Studies, University of Ghana, urged journalists to report in ways that were conflict sensitive, saying, if they did not lend their platforms to politicians to insult themselves they would not have the platforms to do so.
A viable democratic dispensation, she noted, was critical for sustaining a free and independent media and that was why media practitioners should be interested in preventing and exacerbating conflicts, which undermined democracy.
The national interest should be advanced over commercial benefits from advertisements and the plurality of stories offered by the political season.
Mr. Affail Monney, the President of the GJA, said it was critical for the media to learn more from the bad experiences of the previous elections and be guided by a sense of patriotism rather than the love of the political parties.
The GJA, he said, would closely monitor things, to identify, name and shame the deviants in the profession.
The discussants unanimously agreed to uphold professionalism and safeguard the national interest.
They advised their colleagues, who thrived on sensationalism and dramatisation of news reports to always consider the effect of their actions on peace and development of the nation.
Ghanaians will go to the polls in December 2020 to elect their president and parliamentarians for the next four years.
This will be the eight conservative election following the return to multi-party democratic constitutional rule in 1992.