A Senior lecturer at the Department of Communication Studies, University of Cape Coast (UCC), has said the packaging of media products in the local language has encouraged unprofessional practices among journalists and thus has become a smirch on the profession.
Dr Eric Opoku-Mensah described as “distasteful” the derogatory and unsolicited humour in most Akan news contents and their subsequent embellishment of facts which had contributed to inappropriate language on radio and television.
This, he said had blurred the facts and made it difficult for discerning listeners to distinguish between what was factual and fiction.
Dr Opoku-Mensah said this when he spoke on the theme “Maintaining professional standards in journalism, the role of the journalist”, at a ceremony to commemorate the one year anniversary of the UCC Campus Broadcasting Services on Tuesday.
He maintained that the development of media products in the Akan language was one of the best things to have happened to the media landscape in Ghana, but its packaging and delivery of news counted against professionalism and ethical principles which must be discouraged.
“News is not a comedy show and thus its products should not be overly reduced to that. Radio presenters and newscasters should desist from the unnecessary humour and polishing of facts as it counts against their professionalism”.
“The personality assassination, name calling and general abusive nature of some journalist on the airwaves must be halted,” he stated.
Dr Opoku-Mensah reminded journalists that the concept of freedom of speech or their access to the microphone did not give them the liberty to be irresponsible in their speech and actions.
He admonished journalists to uphold the tenets of their profession in order to justify their status as the fourth estate and its role of promoting peace and stability.
“Without professionalism, journalists lose their claim on the rights to be watchdogs on the government and society. Nothing will be more ridiculous than a porous media acting as a check on a putrid government,” he added.
Dr Opoku-Mensah said it behoved on journalists to behave responsibly as their job determined the livelihood and future of the country because many people make vital decisions on the projections and contents of the media.
He further urged Ghanaian journalists to live above reproach, adding that “if our democracy is to gain further meaning, survive and shape our development positively, then journalism cannot be business as usual”.
The Pro Vice Chancellor of UCC, Professor George K. T. Oduro who presided, said journalists must publicly stay away from politics as their affiliations tended to influence their judgment on being fair and thus might bring their professionalism into doubts.
He called on journalists to help build a national character devoid of politics and inculcate the spirit of patriotism, volunteerism and help shape the attitude of Ghanaians especially when it came to time management to bring back the Ghanaian identity.