Madam Stephanie S. Sullivan, the United States (US) Ambassador to Ghana, has underscored the need for the US and Ghana to maintain respected, protected and accountable journalist corps ahead of their national elections.
She said with the election season already in full swing in the US and Ghana, both nations must be vigilant in maintaining respected, protected and accountable journalists corps.
This is because, free and responsible press enabled citizens to make informed decisions and better hold political leaders accountable, allowing democracy to thrive.
Madam Virginia Elliot, Public Affairs Officer of the Embassy read the speech on behalf of the Ambassador at the 25 Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Media Awards in Accra, on the theme “COVID-19 and Credible Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: The Media Factor”.
The PAV Ansah Journalist of the Year Award went to Mr Samson Lardy Anyenini, a broadcast journalist with the Multimedia Group.
Seven journalists with the Ghana News Agency, the nation’s only wire service, were also honoured at the event, with Mrs Beatrice Asamani Savage, Director of Editorial, receiving an award for Outstanding News Editor.
Ghana News Agency also received the G.T. Anim Award for Ethical Journalism and the Media Houses on COVID-19 Coverage category.
Madam Sullivan commended the Association for being at the forefront of press freedom and promoting journalists’ welfare in Ghana.
She said GJA’s presence was constant and effective, giving voice to journalists’ concern and needs.
She commended the Ghanaian media for the resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, saying: “All of you represent hardworking women and men on frontlines, informing and serving the public during this difficult and uncertain time.”
“The US is honoured to partner with you in our common effort to combat the disease. Together, we will achieve the shared goal of emerging healthier, stronger and more united,” she said
The Ambassador said the US Embassy in Accra’s relationship with the GJA continued to grow stronger each year; adding that, they had worked with the Association at both the national and regional levels on various initiatives.
She noted that from development issues to electoral reporting during a pandemic, the US Embassy had partnered with the GJA to build the capacity of the media in the country.
“We’ve sponsored GJA Media Conventions ahead of the past three general elections. In fact, this year, we partnered again with GJA in a series of media conventions across the country.”
The Ambassador said the US valued freedom of the press, and that it believed that all democratic nations must consistently promote a climate in which journalists were free to do their work without fear, harassment or intimidation.
“For more than 70 years, GJA has led the charge to ensure these freedoms are upheld. May the Association continue to do so for another 70 years,” the Ambassador urged, adding “And, as always, please know that the US will be here as a committed partner in the years to come.”
Mr Affail Monney, GJA President, said the Association believed the media had a crucial role to play in ensuring credible elections at all times and said COVID-19 must not in any way, be the shackles on that quest.
“We need the support of other election actors such as the Electoral Commission, political parties, security agencies and civil society organizations to help us achieve credible elections in December,” he stated.
More than 100 individuals and institutions were honoured at the Awards ceremony.