Regional News Tue, 20 May 2003

Exchanges At World Press Day

Koforidua -- The celebration of the World Press Freedom Day by the Eastern Regional branch of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), on Tuesday nearly provided a platform for political exchanges.

But Odeefuo Boadi Asamoah, Koforidua-adahene, who chaired the programme, put everything under control.

What looked like a political exchange started when the Eastern regional secretary at the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Mr. Anthony Gyampoh, at the open forum segment, observed that the way the media used to work has gone down and instead of presenting news on present and up-coming events, they dwell on the past events more.

He called on the media to wake up from their slumber, keep the government and all office holders on their toes as it used to do formerly and not be government agents.

The regional chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Adi Ankamah, argued that no country can write a good history about it's nation by forgetting about its past as the NDC chairman asked everyone to do.

He observed that for almost 20 years, Ghanaians suffered dictatorship proceeding to coups and a whole lot of undemocratic tendencies by the former government. But the NPP government since it took office, has brought about freedom and justice.

Not satisfied with this, Mr. Kwame Appea, Convention People's Party (CPP) regional secretary, challenged the NPP's zero tolerance for corruption by saying, "nothing has changed whatsoever since the NPP came to power."

Mr. Appea asked that the media should help by exposing every corrupt person in the society and also concentrate much on social cankers and how to solve them for a better Ghana.

Speaking under the theme: "Ten years at media and public accountability" the president of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) Mr. Kwame Amo-Darko said accountability builds credibility; and without credibility journalists will not be trusted; and if not trusted, they cannot fulfil their mission to inform the people about what the powerful are doing and failing to do.

He noted that the question of media and public accountability is one issue that relates to the development of the free press.

It is also an issue which if resolved properly, leads to the establishment of a free press and a reasonable press, he noted.

The GNAT president said, the justification for a free press is strengthened when media men and women are actively involved in the process to promote higher professional standards and respect for ethics.

According to him, the proliferation of the private media culminating in liberalisation of the airwaves, has changed the tempo of the media game.

"Most of the private media are undertaking what can best be described as crusading and advocacy journalism which has resulted in shaping the political process and giving much vim to the freedom of speech in the country," Amo Darko observed.

Accordingly, the great things happening today have all been the success story of the struggle that Ghana's media personnel put up to establish their identity and take unto themselves all that press freedom entails.

Mr. Amo-Darko advised journalists to approach their duties with a higher sense of responsibility, objectivity and fairness to frustrate the efforts of opponents of press freedom.

He advocated for media empowerment so that they would be used for national integration, socio-economic development and education.

Odeefuo Boadi Asamoah, adahene reminded journalists to always double check their information before publishing or broadcasting them.

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle