President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged the Ghanaian media not to consider juicy headlines and breaking news at the expense of the future and integrity of the country.
He advised the media to take a second look at the power they wielded and the responsibility they owed to society and execute their mandate with utmost professionalism while abiding by the ethics of the profession.
The President made the call at the 12th graduation ceremony of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) in Accra yesterday. It was on the theme: “Strengthening Media Literacy and Communication Excellence in Ghana”.
The GIJ is the premier journalism institute in West Africa and this year’s graduation ceremony was its first at its uncompleted new campus at Dzorwulu in Accra.
President Akufo-Addo pointed out that the media were faced with a deliberate campaign by some elements in the democratic space to misinform and the inadvertent misinformation by media practitioners in their desire to be the first to break the news, as well as have juicy and punchy headlines.
“There is an inadvertent misinformation by the mainstream media when facts were twisted,” he stated, adding that even when the truth emerged, the mainstream media always failed to publish the facts and rather swept the matter under the carpet and moved on to other issues.
The President said the proliferation of new media channels had created a situation where people engaged in deliberate misinformation campaigns on a daily basis and even though that was not new in politics and war it had gained added currency.
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This has now become tools for political actors who aim to win public relations battles by fabricating or twisting facts and churning them out either through the traditional media or new media channels as news.
He said that posed a major threat to the integrity of the news world and society and called for training, self-regulation and insistence on media ethics and journalistic standards by media houses, practitioners and organisations.
Criminal Libel Law
President Akufo-Addo said the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law had offered Ghanaians the opportunity to express their views about government issues and for civil society to analyse government policies and for the opposition, the space to offer alternative views.
This process had culminated in Ghana becoming the number one country in Africa in the Global Press Freedom Index, according to Reporters Without Borders, President Akufo-Addo stated.
The President announced that to assist the GIJ complete its new site at North Dzorwulu and create space for increased student enrolment as a result of the free SHS, the government had made available GH¢5 million through the GETFund in the 2018 budget, and promised to ensure that the GETFund released the money to the institute as soon as possible.
In his address, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the GIJ, Professor Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh, called for support to provide a wellstocked library to enable effective teaching, learning and research at the institute.
He noted that the increasing number of citizen journalists and social media actors had led to the proliferation of fake news and that the trained journalist had the task of ensuring that the reading and listening public had the right information.
The Ag. Rector, Dr Modestus Fosu, said the institute had on its own started moves to improve infrastructure, especially through its internally generated funds and called on the government and philanthropists to support it.
As part of the celebration of its 60th anniversary, he said, the GIJ intended to launch a GH¢100 million endowment fund and had instituted committees for various endeavours.