Nana Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, the Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), on Thursday called for a national conversation on the Ghana News Agency (GNA) to help position the Agency at its rightful place.
Nana Gyan- Apenteng said the GNA needed to be transformed, adding: “This place is too good to be ruled out. This place must stand. We need to have a national conversation on the GNA to allow it to stand”.
“It is often forgotten that GNA is the official News Agency of Ghana. It is supposed to be the primary gatekeeper of news and information from and about our country”, Nana Gyan-Apenteng noted.
Nana Gyan-Apenteng was addressing the inauguration of an eight-member Board of Directors for the Agency in Accra.
“This is why the NMC has proposed the setting of up a committee of enquiry to look at GNA – the bigger picture in the scheme of affairs, and provide recommendations that will inform the national conversation as far as its placement is concerned.
“We hope that this conversation will result in answering the question of whether the nation needs its News Agency and if so how do we get it to work for us,”
Nana Gyan-Apenteng said although things had not been good lately for the Agency, especially when it had operated without a substantive General Manager for close to one year, “the NMC believed that the relevance of the Agency was not in doubt.
He therefore tasked the new board to support the management to find creative ways of bringing that relevance to the fore. “Today, more than ever before, people need quality information on which to base the decisions that drive their lives.
“People in Ghana and abroad need to know on a daily basis, what is happening in all parts of our country and they will be happy to have interesting stories from across the country. The GNA with its network of journalists and stringers, can provide some of these services.
“We believe that the team we have put together as a new Board is more than competent to help sustain this organisation by building on the good work of the previous Board.
“What we also need here is unity of purpose across the entire organisation. If we all pull together in the same direction there is no doubt that we will berth safely at our destination”.
The new Board, chaired by Professor Olivia Adwoa Tiwaah Frimpong Kwapong, a lecturer at the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Ghana; has Dr Sarah Akrofi Quarcoo, a renowned broadcaster and a Journalism lecturer, Mr Charles Acheampong, a Communication Specialist with the National Communication Authority, and Mr Kofi Boakye, a Lawyer and Management Consultant as members.
Others are: Ms Ellen Avorgbedor, a veteran Broadcaster, Dr Kwame Nyamekye, a lecturer at the Methodist University College, Mr Albert Sam, a veteran Journalist, and the General Manager of the GNA.
They were sworn into office by Nana Gyan-Apenteng, who urged them to help the GNA to survive the immediate difficulties by using the knowledge and experience at their disposal to advance the cause of the Agency.
The NMC Chair, said the GNA had played a critical role in the dissemination of news, as an institution established in the sub-Saharan Africa, not only to meet the needs of Ghana, but also of the African continent.
He recalled that well into the 1990s, GNA was the main source of information for most news outlets, diplomatic missions and international agencies in Ghana and beyond.
“Even today, what most people are not aware of is the fact that GNA supplies much of the information, especially from outside the main cities and towns”, he noted.
“However, as we all acknowledge, the impact of technology, especially Information and Communication Technologies, (ICT), on news agencies has been profound, though the biggest advantage of news agency journalism was and still remains the speed of delivery.”
He called for more resources for the GNA, including financial, equipment, better trained managers, technicians and engineers and also, well trained journalists who would provide the news from across the country.
Prof Kwapong said the GNA really had a history in the annals of the country and that it had so far lived to play its role very well, despite the challenges confronting it presently.
She said the Board was ready to work with all stakeholders, including the staff to help turn its fortunes around so that the Agency could fulfill its mandate of informing its audience with accurate, objective information with timeliness.
Mr Rex Annan, the Acting General Manager of GNA said with the provision of the needed resources, the Agency was ready to live up to its expectation of better informing the citizenry on governmental, institutional as well as relevant bodies that were important in their daily lives.
“For the better communication of what is going on in Ghana, GNA is key to bridging the gap between institutions and Ghanaians”, he noted.