Some media stakeholders have committed to supporting the government’s efforts to train and improve on the work of journalists in the country.
They have also committed to ensuring the safety of journalists to help position the media to effectively play their watchdog role in a conducive environment to consolidate the country’s democracy for national development.
The stakeholders include the Ministry of Information, the Media Commission (NMC) and some development partners, such as the European Union (EU), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
Others are the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ).
The stakeholders made the pledge at the first Development Partners’ Conference on Media Support Programmes in Accra yesterday.
Speaking at the maiden conference, the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, urged the stakeholders to explore how to collaborate around a set of media support programmes that responded to the most pressing needs of the media.
“The task ahead of us is to do this effectively and in a manner that doesn’t impose expectations and pressures on the media to abandon the other parts of their mandate,” he said.
The media, he said, occupied a very significant place in national life, with the potential to multiply the country’s best efforts or take them down.
“They must not be left on their own to prod through the dark, hoping to find their way to the very top. They must be assisted and supported with the best of our technical and financial muscle to make excellence — excellence of global repute — the norm and not the exception,’’ he said.
Mr Nkrumah noted that journalists in the country generally meant well and were committed to the development of the country through sheer sacrifice, but needed support to improve on the delivery of their mandate.
“He is only trying to do his job and earn a living. She is only trying to contribute her quota to building a good society and doing so in the best way she knows. If we are truly interested in getting this all-important Fourth Estate to maintain and build on high standards, then the broader society needs to take an interest in how to assist the media with interventions towards these goals,” he said.
Mr Nkrumah explained that although Ghana had built a robust culture of independent, free and fierce media practice even before independence, there were occasional sporadic incidents of media attacks and complaints about media reportage by various segments of society that needed to be addressed.
“Ghana’s media landscape continues to generally be the toast and envy of many globally. But media practice has significant challenges. In Ghana, although we are now nearing the completion of research work to collate empirically the most recent challenges of the media, a cursory analysis already highlights a number of challenges that must be urgently attended to,” he said.
For instance, he said, Wikipedia’s narrative about the media in Ghana, among other things, indicated that despite their relative freedoms, journalists in the country were often poorly paid, under-resourced and often lacked training.
Mr Nkrumah said the media support programmes, when fully implemented, would help turn around the narrative.
The Chairman of the NMC, Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, said the commission would support any initiative that sought to improve on the work of journalists in the country.
“For as long as we have offers that are intended to make the Ghanaian journalist better, we will support that initiative. And that is why we are here to reiterate the fact that the ministry is not working as an island; it is not working alone. We have been part of the processes, but sometimes you need a face of government to help in the mobilisation of resources,” he said.
Mr Boadu- Ayeboafoh said although the NMC did not have its own resources and relied on the state to fund its projects, it welcomed the gesture by the ministry to use its resources for the benefit of journalists in the country.
“If the ministry will use its facilities to support journalists, then we have to support it,” he said.
For his part, the President of the GJA, Mr Affail Monney, said the initiative had come at the right time to help cure some of the ills in the media space.
He said recent attacks on some journalists and the gruesome murder of Mr Ahmed Suale had the tendency of suppressing press freedom and called for efforts to protect journalists.
“We welcome these initiatives and we appeal that it should be backed by the education of journalists on safety,” he said.