Give more attention to financial education - Prof. Kwame Karikari
The Board Chairman of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Prof. Kwame Karikari, has chastised the media for devoting limited attention to financial education.
He said the media had not done well in terms of financial education so that people would learn how to invest well and not be duped by scammers and the rest.
“It is time to change the narrative. As journalists, we owe it a duty to educate, entertain and inform and these we must do professionally to create awareness of the financial market, improve upon financial literacy and capacity and usage of quality financial services,” he said when he took his turn on MTN Ghana’s bright conversation series, organised as part of its 25th anniversary celebration.
The series is a thought leadership programme where distinguished personalities in various fields share their thoughts on numerous topical issues.
It was on theme: “Promoting Professionalism in the Era of Social Media and Citizen Journalism”.
Experts say expanding financial services to large number of people, especially in rural areas where over 60 per cent of the population are affected by poverty was a key way to promote inclusive development and reduce poverty.
Therefore, Prof. Karikari said a focus on financial literacy was a major way to bring more people into the financial system and also needed in pursuing the important national development agenda.
Prof. Karikari noted that low levels of income in the media in Ghana and Africa generally, had serious effect on the levels of professionalism and which he attributed partly to the larger economy that the media operated in.
He deduced that in most of African countries, the media was really on shoestring budget- they are set up by individual business people whose capital was limited and they were also set up in locations where the economies were poor.
“The owners do not have the money to buy them even bicycles to go out and look for news and owners do not have the money to employee graduates from accredited professional institutions.
“The economies of these media organisations are such that their output cannot be that professional and so it gives rise to all manner of challenges.
“Some stations I know in many places including Accra just tell the journalist go and find their daily bread so they go out and tend to take pittance to cater for transport and food,” he said.
On the other hand, he said there were real worthy business people who invest in the media but do not pay a dime or do so miserably.
“They are just exploiting the people and the Ghana Journalists Association has for a very long time tried to become a union and if it became a union, then they could negotiate for minimum wages for people in the media.
Also, he said because journalists do not have the common mouthpiece, different media owners treat them differently.
“How do they survive? How do they become professional? Being professional is having the resources to go and look for the news, having the resources to produce well-researched and well organised programmes,” he said.
He advocated for a media development fund not charity, but a loan fund which interests rate would not be based on what the main banks were charging but something that small media owners could tap into and pay over a period of time.
“That may also add up to improving the professional standards of our media. If so many media don’t have the capital to do a good job, we cannot have the kind of quality that society demands,” he said.
He added that professional journalism was needed and should be the underpinning of democracy maturing and moving forward.
Touching on the proliferation of social media in the digital era, Prof. Karikari described it as an expansion of freedom of expression because it provided a platform for every ad-hoc group to share ideas – forming a basis for social interaction of all kinds.
He observed that through social media, people get to network and disseminate information in the shortest possible time.
Touching on the negatives that came with the rise of social media, he intimated that the anonymity provided by social media had allowed the vitriol that was once subtle and restricted to the eyes and ears of a few people to enter mainstream consumption.
He charged media practitioners to demonstrate professionalism by taking out the sting in some pieces of information they come across; if they intend to publish those.