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Govt keen on improving Press Index ranking - Oppong Nkrumah

BY: Emmanuel Bonney
Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Information Minister
Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Information Minister

The government remains focused on building collaboration among stakeholders to improve Ghana's rankings on the new model World Press Freedom Index, the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has stated.

In a statement to mark World Press Freedom Day yesterday, he said although the government had taken note of the caution not to compare 2021 and 2022 World Press Freedom rankings, it acknowledged that a lot more needed to be done by stakeholders to ace Ghana's rankings on the new model.

Ghana’s ranking

Publishers of the ranking announced they had employed a new methodology which moved Ghana to 60th in the global ranking for 2022 cautioning against a year-on-year comparison.

The new methodology takes into account a quantitative survey of press freedom violations and abuses against journalists and the media, and a qualitative study based on the responses of hundreds of press freedom experts selected by Reporters Without Borders (RWB), which includes journalists, academics and human rights defenders.

Contributors to Ghana's new rank include attacks by Ada youth on Radio Ada, arrests of people publishing fake news by the police and manhandling of a Citi FM journalist at a National Security facility.

Support

Mr Nkrumah stressed the importance to step up the country's response by educating state agencies and the public to relate better with journalists even when they disagreed with their work.

Already, he said, the government had supported the National Media Commission to establish an office for the Coordinated Mechanism on the Safety of Journalists.

The newly created office, the minister said, needed more support and attention to succeed in its work.

He added that the government, through the Media Capacity Enhancement Programme, was providing training for about 250 journalists on emerging issues in journalism.

“It forms part of collaborative efforts by stakeholders in the media industry such as the Ghana Journalists Association and media umbrella bodies to support the sector which has been challenged in recent times,” he stated.

He added that the government was also collaborating with stakeholders, including civil society organisations to deepen education for state and non-state actors on the safety of journalists.

That, in addition to the numerous support the government lent out to media associations, including media owners, to improve the working and economic conditions of journalists, the minister stated.

Expert view

A Democracy and Development Fellow at the Centre for Democratic Development, Ghana (CDD-Ghana), Dr John Osae-Kwapong, said the latest World Press Index Report on Ghana did not paint a positive image for the country.

The democracy and development fellow said the drop in the press ranking brought into question all those credentials the country had enjoyed.

Problem areas

Dr Osae-Kwapong explained that a look at the report showed some of the sub-scores in areas that were problematic, adding that there was, therefore, the need for the country to begin to look at how media personnel were treated, especially in the line of duty.

Inasmuch as he agreed that journalists needed to carry out their work without fear, he expressed the belief that they also had the responsibility not to infringe on the rights of others.

“Working according to the ethics of the profession is critical in this endeavour in the exercise of their work to enhance press freedom,” Dr Osae-Kwapong stated.

He charged the government to study the report critically and reflect on it, looking at the things that certain state actors were engaged in that were creating a hostile environment for journalists.

Moreover, Dr Osae-Kwapong called for a forum of all the key stakeholders, saying that “having a fruitful engagement can enhance the work that they do”.