The Government, will from next year, commence a Media Capacity Enhancement Programme to strengthen the capacities of personnel in Production, Analytics, Editorial and Specialisation.
The initiative, which also seeks to help improve content and professionalism, would be jointly implemented by the School of Communication Studies, the Ghana Journalists Association, the National Media Commission, and the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association among other stakeholders.
Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Information Minister-designate, disclosed this at the 23rd Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Awards ceremony held in Accra, which recognised 36 journalists, individuals, and organisations for their contribution to media freedom and professionalism.
Mr Bernard Koku Avle won the 2017 PAV Journalist of the Year Award and took home a cash prize, a three-bedroom house, as well as a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), a certificate and a plaque.
The ceremony, on the theme: “State of Investigative Journalism: Boundaries of Privacy and Borders of the Public Interest,” saw the Ghana News Agency picking five awards.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah explained that the Ministry investigated the challenges in implementing the Media Development Fund introduced by the previous administration and realised that the Capacity Enhancement Programme would be a better alternative.
The Programme, he said, would also enhance media responsibility of not only highlighting ills in society but reporting on issues that forged unity, create positively psyched mind-sets, especially for the youth to have the “can do spirit” and build their faith in the country.
“Let’s not only tell the bad news but also know that we have the sole agenda setting responsibility to tell the good stories to generate good effect and make people believe in the country,” he said.
On the welfare of journalists in the country, Mr Oppong Nkrumah described the current situation as not the best as other issues, including the famous banking crisis, had led to the laying-off of some media practitioners.
He called on media owners to provide better remuneration and conditions of services to the journalists to help them improve on their output.
While lauding press liberalisation for bringing about the proliferation of media houses, he said the transformation had not reflected positively on the welfare of media practitioners.
Mr Nkrumah challenged journalists to ensure adequate and accurate reportage of events to promote a positive image of the country.
Justice Sophia Akuffo, the Chief Justice, in her keynote address, which touched on investigative journalism, said: “The limits of investigative journalism is privacy, and the limits of privacy is the public interest.”
She said Ghana’s journalism practice could not be compared to yellow journalism in developed countries, where media houses presented little or no legitimate well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines to increase sales.
Justice Akuffo urged journalists not to put raw information out without first conducting the necessary background checks to ascertain its accuracy, adding it would help place value on stories published by the individual and his or her media institution.
She advised journalists to operate within their Code of Ethics, established by the GJA, especially the Guidelines that directs them to respect the individual’s rights to privacy and human dignity.
The Chief Justice encouraged all media institutions to ensure that they obtained information, videos, data, photographs and illustrations only through honest, straightforward, fair and open means unless otherwise tampered by public interest considerations just as directed by the GJA Code of Ethics.
“It is important to be careful not to steer people’s privacy while trying to achieve a public interest. This is because the damage caused by words spoken can never be repaired, therefore journalists should be careful with whatever information they report on in haste to attract the public,” she said.
Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, Law Professor at the University of Ghana, who chaired the event, said the Field of Journalism had witnessed massive transformation and called for the need to explore and expand the frontiers.
She commended the GJA for organising the awards ceremony, which serves as motivation to the media personnel to give of their best.
Mr Affail Monney, the GJA President, said Investigative Journalism was the most potent force that could be employed by the journalist to deeply investigate any issue of public interest, particularly of criminal nature.
He said the unique role of the journalists at helping the people to arrive at the truth, be discerning, and make informed choices that are so crucial in any functional democracy, was often time-consuming, expensive, beset by intimidation and harassment, and could, at times, be dangerous and life-threatening to the journalist.
“In spite of the GJA's satisfaction with the growing public recognition and appreciation of this form of journalism, the Association does not intend to pretend that it is unaware of some of the accusations that have been levelled against it by others,” he said.
“These are main concerns about some aspects of the modus operandi of investigative journalists. Accusations of “commercialisation” of investigative journalism outcomes, and the seeming lack of a clear distinction between investigative journalism and the operations of private-eye investigators are top on the list of criticisms of the craft,” he said.