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The Political Parties Trying To Muzzle The Press?

Thu, 13 May 2010 Source: Quaye, Stephen A.

From: Stephen A. Quaye, Toronto-Canada.

Can somebody out there in Ghana please explain to me why the party hawks or activists of the ruling government National Democratic Congress [NDC] has been attacking various media set ups for not highlighting their suppose activities?

Maybe their complaints are genuine and needs some attention especially where the president’s undertaken assignments are not given the much needed attention in the media to inform and educate the masses of what is going on.

But if they are just making those complaints because they the activists believe that they know more than the anchor men and their able journalists on the ground that are practicing freedom of speech so that they can manipulate them to serve their interest then those complaints must be thrown out.

Why am I saying that? In recent news, one of the newspapers carried on its banner headline “Ransford Tetteh Exposed Ones Again” where according to the story, this noble man of the journalism profession who is the anchor man of the Daily Graphic was accused of sabotaging the government by not carrying stories favorable to it on the papers front page thereby tagging him as NPP activist.

The anchor man was being accused for being an NPP man because he failed to publish the suppose propaganda statement signed and issued by the Deputy Information minister Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa that his NDC government since it came to power 15 months ago has created employment for 1.6 million unemployed in the country.

Instead of the propaganda press statement issued by the deputy information minister, the noble anchor man carried the painful accidents that occurred on the Bole Bamboi Road which recorded 25 deaths and serious injuries which the party activists did not see as a big story that was to be carried on the papers front page with their press statement buried in the middle of the paper.

Does this give a tangible reason why NDC party faithful have to tag the anchor man of Graphic Newspaper Corporation as an NPP faithful therefore using his position as such at state newspaper? Do they have any right to decide for the anchor man of this noble profession what story must make the headlines or be spiked?

Ghana’s learned men and women after experiencing different forms of government instituted changes that left the people and the country the legacy of a freedom of speech and leaving nothing to chance drafted the forth republican constitution.

But the freedom of the press has not been given the utmost authority or power as it was suppose to be .The delegates who drafted the constitution I think remembered how previous governments with much emphasis to military .dictatorships manipulated the press to serve their interests and realized that the press was at least impartially responsible to the ordinary Ghanaian.

Whatever it is, do not be surprise that freedom of the press is being fought for still in Ghana because in America, Canada, Germany and Britain it happened where successive governments tried to collapse the press for criticizing them.

But one statesman in America who understood the importance of the press Thomas Jefferson in 1787 wrote “I am persuaded that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray but will soon correct themselves. The people are the only censors of their government; and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution”.

He went on to write,” To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs through the channel of the public papers, and contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole masses of the people.

“The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first objective should be to keep the right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter” he expressed the importance of the press freedom.

However contrary to what Thomas Jefferson said in expressing his understanding about the press freedom centuries ago, certain politicians who claim are in support of the freedom of the press are rather choosing government as against the press and it is a serious matter.

By deciding to use the accident story on the front page of the Graphic, the anchorman gave recognition to the private people who have the greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention.

Now the general public must be made aware that a true professional journalist like Mr.Ransford Tetteh, believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. Therefore the duty of this anchor man is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues so he did nothing wrong for deciding where NDC propaganda story must be placed and where to place that accident story too.

Since every journalist be it Mr. Tetteh or whoever, is bonded by the code of ethics of the profession to test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error as deliberate distortions are not permissible, let us make our press freedom work by giving our anchor men the free hand to exercise their duties to the satisfaction of all and not read politics into every bit of their work.

End Story.

Columnist: Quaye, Stephen A.