Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere, Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), on Wednesday said the media’s performance in the 2012 general election was an improvement on the previous ones and he attributed that to the various training programmes organised for media personnel prior to the election and commended them for their efforts.
Ambassador Blay-Amihere was speaking at a day’s review meeting organised by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to assess media reportage and coverage of Election 2012.
The meeting, which brought together GJA members, civil society organisations, regulatory institutions, political parties, media training institutions and academia, was sponsored by the STAR-Ghana and facilitated by the KAB Governance Consult.
It was on the theme: “Media Coverage of the 2012 Election: Lessons for the Future” and attracted about 50 participants.
The Chairman of the NMC said the Constitution of Ghana made provision for the NMC to ensure sanity in the media landscape and like any regulatory body, the Commission had a lot of work to do, especially when there were approximately 293 radio stations currently operating in the country.
Ambassador Blay-Amihere said the Commission appreciated the roles of other associations in promoting the aspect of its mandate that touched on ensuring professional standards in the industry.
He said for any meaningful assessment, there should be clear criteria and guidelines for assessing the media and one such guideline could be the media’s performance in the 2012 elections.
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He stressed the need to provide continuous training for media personnel to enable them to be abreast of current issues and also equip them with modern equipment to stand the test of time.
He, therefore, commended the media for an excellent performance even though they were not adequately equipped for the task.
Ambassador Blay-Amihere cautioned the media to be circumspect in reporting on the post-election court proceedings.
The Executive Secretary of the NMC, Mr George Sarpong, said during electioneering period, the electorate depended on the media to understand basic issues concerning the process.
He said the media could only do that if it upheld accuracy and objectivity and urged them to always crosscheck facts before they come out with controversial stories.
“We must also guard against rumour mongering, hate speech or intemperate language when covering elections,” he said.
Mr Sarpong noted that there were some imbalances in the way some regions and districts were covered and stressed the need to spread the media tentacles in future.
He also pointed out the media’s inability to frame issues properly gave the politicians a free hand to operate and urged the media to critically analyse opinion polls before drawing conclusions.
Mr Kwesi Jonah, a Research Fellow at Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), said the role of the media in multi-party democracy could not be overemphasised.
He said the media had a role to play in a multi-ethnic society like Ghana to either integrate the society or break it apart and stressed the need for the society to consider the media as a vital tool instead of seeing it as a separate entity.
“So whether the media will help in building the society or separate it will depend on how the society sees it. All of us should be contributing our quota towards assisting the media more along national integration.”
“Let’s support the media to integrate all of us for us to get the media we deserve. We all have a role to play,” he added.
Ransford Tetteh, the GJA President, in a speech read for him, said although the GJA was desirous in the past to hold such review meetings, it had been always difficult to marshal the necessary funds to undertake them and commended STAR-Ghana for the support.
He expressed the hope that the meeting would create a platform for media professionals and election stakeholders to reflect on the coverage of the last elections with the view to drawing the relevant lessons and identifying the necessary interventions for media capacity development as well as future elections coverage.
Mr Bright Blewu, the Secretary General of the GJA, said the welfare and security of journalists covering elections should be a collective responsibility of both media managers and the public.
The general consensus among participants indicated that the media performed excellently before, during and after the 2012. - GNA