Media urged to prioritise disability reporting
Speakers at a media capacity-building programme on disability reporting have urged journalists to prioritise issues concerning persons with disabilities (PWDs).
They said contrary to perceptions that PWDs were a burden on society, they rather had untapped potential that could be harnessed for national development.
They, therefore, underscored the need for the media to use their platforms to create more awareness of matters of disability and also hold duty bearers to account.
The speakers included the Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah; the Chief Executive Officer of Strategic Communications Africa Limited, Esther Cobbah; the General Manager of the Young Africa Media Centre (YAMC), Stephen Selasi Asuo, and the Press and Media Specialist at the US Embassy, Joyce Asiedu.
They were speaking at the second edition of the media capacity-building initiative for reporting on disability (MCBIRD) programme in Takoradi in the Western Region.
The programme, which was first organised in 2021, is an initiative of the YAMC, in collaboration with the US Embassy in Ghana, the Arizona State University, USA, and the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA).
This year, 20 journalists who stood out in telling compelling stories on disability were selected from across the country to attend the programme to be given further training on the subject.
The participants were from the Daily Graphic, the Ghanaian Times, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), the Ghana News Agency (GNA), TV3, Metro TV and the EIB Network.
They were presented with citations of honour for their contribution to disability reporting.
At the end of the two-day event, a broadcast journalist with the GBC, Beatrice Senadju, emerged the winner of an awards scheme designed by the organisers as part of the training programme.
A journalist with the EIB Network, Ivan Heathcote-Fumador, picked the award in the Journalist Living with Disability category.
Mr Darko-Mensah described the initiative as appropriate, since it would ensure that the spotlight was put on issues affecting PWDs.
He called on journalists to take a keen interest in reporting on discrimination against PWDs to help reverse the trend.
"Everyone has a voice to be heard, irrespective of his or her gender, disability or status in society. The media must amplify these voices without discrimination," he added.
According to Mr Darko-Mensah, the media also had a pivotal role to play in demystifying myths and perceptions about PWDs.
Mr Asuo said the decision to roll out the initiative came out of the need to build the capacity of journalists to report accurately on disability issues.
He said given the crucial role journalists played in shaping opinions for national development, it was important for them to prioritise issues of disability to ensure that PWDs were supported to contribute to nation-building.
He, however, said the media could portray PWDs appropriately only if they had the right information, knowledge and skills to create awareness of disability issues.
Ms Cobbah urged journalists to be circumspect in the way they put out stories on disability, since the misrepresentation of disability issues could worsen the plight of PWDs.
She further urged them to learn to use the right terminologies and factual information and also pick story angles that fairly represented the realities of PWDs.
For her part, Mrs Asiedu commended YAMC for the initiative to champion the cause of inclusion of PWDs.
She said the US was committed to fostering accountability and capacity building globally to advance the rights of PWDs.
She added that the US government recognised the potential of PWDs and would, therefore, support every initiative that would help protect their rights and make life better for them.