The Ghanaian media has been touted as an important stakeholder and pillar of peace ahead of the December 7 general elections.
Moderating the Media-Security Dialogue on Violence, Mrs Princess Sekyere Bih, Director of Kingdom Concepts Consult and convenor of the event, urged media institutions to be conscious of their role in disseminating accurate information during and after elections.
She said, “Should the Media play its part by being responsible in its report on the election, refuse to take sides or demonize one party, twist facts, incite violence, censor itself and is provided security by the police, we would have a peaceful environment during and after the election.”
At a short dialogue session during the event, panellists made up of Eyram Bashan - International media icon, communications specialist, Abigail Larbi Programme Manager, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), DSP Yaw Nketia-Yeboah, Ghana Police Service and Jot Agyemang, Executive Director, Institute of Media Practice charged the media and all well-meaning Ghanaians to be patriotic, appreciate and preserve Ghana’s lasting “Peace” culture.
Mrs Eyram Bashan, charged media owners and editors to have professional codes of conducts and editorial policies to regulate their various media houses as a guide for journalists to ensure a credible reportage, especially during and after elections without fear or favour. She recounted her experience as head of Newsroom at Metro TV when she had to resist instructions from a Political Party official who thronged the newsroom in a high tension environment demanding an immediate declaration of election results ahead of the Electoral Commission.
She called on all journalists who will be fielded by their media houses at different locations in various parts of the country during the elections to remain focused and resolute for the task ahead in ensuring a credible and factual reportage devoid of distortion and partisan lines in spite of their political affinity.
Abigail Larbi, admonished politicians, media houses and commentators who spew hate speeches that insight people to inflame passions which stir up the political tension in the country to desist from such behaviour since they are noted and recorded by the Media Foundation and will not hesitate to provide the evidence to the appropriate quarters for punishment if need be.
She stressed that they will name and shame political actors and some individuals who decide to use intemperate languages adding that the electronic media, specifically the radio stations, advise party commentators who use unpalatable words and name-calling during phone-in sessions.
In response to a question by the facilitator Mrs Princess S. Bih, the main organizer of the event “as to whether there was the need for censorship as a measure to control the kind of contents and messages recently making rounds on social media, Jot Agyemang, Executive Director, stated that he would not advocate for censorship to control social media since they have the right to develop, generate and control own content, but cautioned individuals that the source of information could be traced at any location.
DSP Yaw Nketia-Yeboah with the Public Affairs Directorate, on his part, could not hide his displeasure about the issue of the “Law on Causing fear and Panic” which most political actors, some media practitioners and commentators often fall foul of.
This, he stressed the readiness of the Police to clamp down on people who make distasteful statements that have the tendency to cause unnecessary anxiety which the law frowns on, especially people of high office or political party officials and actors who are supposed to know better.
DSP Mr Nketia-Yeboah sent a strong signal to Media owners; Practitioners, Presenters and Hosts of special programmes on radio stations who allow commentators and political representatives and other personalities to cause fear and panic by making derogatory statements capable of inciting people are as guilty as those offenders according to the law.
He added that with the issue of people's social media contents the Police has what it takes in the area of technology to trace and arrest any blogger or owner of any social media who post offensive content that can cause harm one’s credibility.