Accra, June 4, GNA - Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Minister of Information, has urged leaders in the media industry to constantly set ethical standards to make the media more responsive and relevant.
He said they should also be quick to uphold same while calling out boldly, without fear or favour what was not journalism but masqueraded as such.
Mr Nkrumah said if this was not done by journalists themselves, it would set a stage for others to take them on and by effect undermine what is true journalism.
The Minister made the remarks during the opening ceremony of the African Journalist Leaders Conference organized by the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) in Accra.
The Conference would discuss strategies to shape the media industry on the continent in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and come out with the Accra Declaration which would articulate the future direction of journalism in Africa.
It is on the theme: "Building Stronger Unions to Enhance Journalism and Media Freedom."
He said one of the biggest threats to journalism was the infiltration of persons who used journalism as a cover to practice all sorts of unethical and unacceptable acts that were known to the industry.
The Minister said the Conference was necessary because it provided an opportunity for deep reflection on development in the media industry.
He said the media landscape in Ghana and many African countries was previously characterized by the domination of state-owned media.
“Today Ghana for example boasts of over 500 radio stations, over 140 television stations, hundreds of registered newspapers and publications and the internet space is full of online audiovisual connections and several Ghanaians broadcasting from home and abroad and expressing divergent and sometimes heated views on all matters of our daily lives. Ghanaians freely agree and disagree with government, civil society groups and even the media today,” he said.
He said since 2020 Government had implemented the Right to Information Law and had further introduced a number of support programmes to assist Journalists in their practice including the media capacity enhancement growth.
Mr Nkrumah said the freedoms that Ghana and other African countries enjoyed came after long years of struggling and ideological differences and must be guarded jealousy.
He said impunity of any form meted out to Journalists must be condemned and addressed if it occurred anywhere.
The Minister said Journalists needed to be supported with capacity building programmes to ensure that their skills set, ethical considerations and professionalism were always upheld.
This, he said, called for regular investment by all stakeholders including Journalist unions, civil society groups and even the State.
Mr Nkrumah said Ghana’s Media Capacity Enhancement Programme which was expected to roll out this year should be a module from which others can learn and by so doing, contribute effectively to enhance true journalism and preserve its hallowed role in the development of the nation and continent.
Mr Sadig Ibrahim Ahmed, President of FAJ, said last June, the Federation launched a report highlighting worrying trends for the media industry as a result of COVID-19.
He said the report showed that African Governments' responses to the economic impact of the pandemic had very negative impacts on the media sector and lacked specific measures to support media workers.
“In particular, Unions singled out quarantine measures, which prevented journalists from doing their job. This emanated from a failure in many places, to recognize journalists as frontline workers who had a critical role to play during the pandemic. Only 20 per cent of Governments have made interventions hat specifically addressed the crisis of news media,” he said.
The FAJ President said during the COVID-19 crisis, African journalists played a critical role in creating awareness about the pandemic and the safety measures that people needed to take to prevent its spread.
He said the present crisis and the future called for new thinking and strategic alliances between Trade Unions and Governments, as well as regional and international organizations.
“We need to create new platforms for collaboration under which we should be more of partners than adversaries, with a clear respect for the boundaries that define our different roles in society.”
“We trust that the Government of Ghana can offer a leadership role and help to define the path that Governments should take to ensure that Journalism and labour solidarity emerge from this crisis stronger and more resilient,” he said.