Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, the Chairperson of the National Media Commission, on Friday, urged Ghanaian media to refrain from empanelling political activists in every public discussion, irrespective of their competence and capacity to understand and appreciate the issues at stake.
He advised them to also in prudent by empaneling individuals and personalities who were knowledgeable in the subject matter to ensure objective discourse, and not resorting to cacophonous support and loyalty to political parties anytime matters of public interest came up .
” One of the mandates given to us in the Constitution is that, we have to hold government accountable to the people of this country, but when we take sides in partisan basis, we did not only lose our professional credibility, but we become stooges.
“A journalist must exist because he is a journalist, a journalist must not exist because there was a politician, because we do not live our politics alone, but we also live our journalism and we need to make an impact,” he emphasised.
He therefore entreated Ghanaian journalists to engage in productive discussions that would educate the people to make informed decisions and hold every political leadership accountable.
Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh, who presided over the function, said this at a durbar organised by the Ghana Journalists Association in Accra, to mark the 2019 World Press Freedom Day held on the theme: “Media for Democracy, journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation”.
The event attracted high profile personalities, including; Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, Head of the Public Affairs of the United States Embassy, Former President of the GJA, the Police and staff and media owners, as well as veteran and young journalists.
The Day is marked worldwide to recognise the contribution of the media towards national development.
Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh cited his recent experience at a media house, where the New Patriotic Party and National Democratic Congress panellists on the programme engaged each other in an unproductive debate, arguing about which party had performed better than the other.
He observed that such debates did not matter much to Ghanaians, but rather ensuring the effective use of the various infrastructural development instituted by the political parties benefited the people.
The NMC Chair said every fund invested in any project belonged to the people and should be prudently used to benefit them.
“The money we invested in those projects are monies that belonged to the good people of this country, it does not belong to people who are in particular leadership, and if it were their own money, they would not waste it the way we have been wasting some of the resources,” he added.
He said it was only when journalists became part of history-making, that they would be worth celebrating the World Press Freedom Day and, thus, urged media practitioners to exercise circumspection in their reportage as the nation approached an election year.
“It was because of the interest of the people that made media practitioners significant, hence the journalists must at all times uphold and promote the interest of the citizenry.
“If we think we have freedom and exercise that freedom without due regard of the interest of the people we are living with, then we’re destroying the foundations of that freedom.
“Freedom without responsibility is futile and in the same way as you cannot exert responsibility where there is no freedom and, therefore, at all times freedom and responsibility must go hand in hand,” he emphasised.
Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh pointed out that when media practitioners discharged their responsibilities in accordance with the ethics of Journalism, then “we must expect a reciprocity and the people put their trust in us, they confide in us and appreciate the things that we do”.
The NMC Chairperson asked Ghanaian media to take a cue from some atrocities and violent incidents that occurred during elections in Chereponi, Akwatia, Atewa and the recent Ayawaso West Wuogon debacle, which should inform them about their choices so that we did not destroy the progress the nation made in its democratic dispensation.
He, therefore, entreated the media to defend the sovereign rights of the people at all times.
Mr Ronald Affail Monney, the President of the GJA, in his welcome address, urged the media to surgically deal with the culture of impunity, which fuelled the attacks and threats of media freedom in Ghana.
He said the recent threat of attack was being witnessed by the Starr Fm’s reporter, Edward Adeti, whose investigative work led to the resignation of Mr Rockson Bukari, a Minister of State at the Presidency.
He lauded the moral perfection of Mr Adeti who refused to accept a bribe to spike the damaging story and, thus, vehemently condemned the threat and robbery perpetrated against him.
He urged the National Security to move with urgent platitude to provide the necessary protection to the report to avert any tragic incident.