The media have a crucial role to play in ensuring a peaceful, free, fair and credible general election on December 7, Mr Affail Monney, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), said.
“The GJA believes the media have a crucial role to play in ensuring credible elections at all times and the prevalence of COVID-19 must not, in anyway, be allowed to put shackles on that quest by the media,” he said.
Mr Monney said this at the 25th GJA Awards on the theme: “COVID-19 and Credible Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: The Media Factor”.
He said: “We, however, need the support of other election actors such as the Electoral Commission (EC), political parties, security agencies and civil society organizations to help us achieve credible elections in December.”
This year had been very tough for the media in Ghana because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had applied the brakes on normalcy and compelled humanity and institutions, including the media, to adopt and adjust to new ways of life, he said.
Mr Monney said the GJA, the umbrella body of the media in Ghana, was similarly affected and it had had to dig deep into its innovational acumen to survive the torrential impact of COVID-19.
“At a point in time, we were not sure we could organise the annual GJA Media Awards this year, given the financial toll the pandemic had had on corporate Ghana, who had often and generously supplied the financial oxygen for the awards,” he said.
“Thankfully, and through the unflinching support of our faithful sponsors, notably the Volta River Authority (VRA), the United States Embassy, Inn-olink and adb Bank, we are able to organise the awards ceremony, albeit under strict COVID-19 safety protocols.”
He said year 2020 had been a test of character for the Ghanaian media, which had to discharge their godly, constitutional and moral responsibilities towards the people in the midst of a pandemic, coupled with the daunting task of covering the upcoming general election that promised to be very keen by all indications.
The GJA President said the media’s character as bearers and disseminators of critical information that helped the people to survive in the midst of a pandemic and also guided the electorate to make informed choices in, and ensure the success of, a crucial election, were under test, “and we dare not fail no matter the challenges we face”.
“That is because any iota of failure by the media may spell the doom of the nation.”
It is for this reason that the media must endeavour to discharge their responsibility diligently and professionally.”
Mr Monney said the theme for the 25th GJA Awards reflected the need for the media to be diligent and professional in ensuring the successful conduct of the polls in spite of the challenges imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
He expressed profound gratitude of the Association to the US Embassy for the financial support to organise the 2020 Media Convention that helped train about 150 practitioners and stakeholder representatives on the coverage of the election.
“With such support, we hope the media are well equipped to cover Election 2020 in a more professional manner that would ensure the credibility of
the polls,” he said.