Ghanaian journalists have been encouraged to show a lot more interest or increase their reportage in the country’s nascent oil and gas industry. This is to enhance transparency and accountability in management of the oil revenue and contracts between government and multinationals expressing interest in exploration and production of the resource.
Experts believe that, constant and accurate reportage on the industry will go a long way to effectively educate the public on the happenings in the oil and gas sector. Several Ghanaians are believed to be ignorant of how revenue accruing from sale of crude oil is being spent by government.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a one week oil and gas training course in Accra, Fred Avornyo, a facilitator and media-trainer said, there seems to be lack of interest among many media practitioners in reporting on the industry.
He also observed that, there is some form of knowledge gap among some of the journalists who sometimes report on oil and gas issues, and as a result, their reportage he said, do not do the public much good in terms of quality information.
According to Mr. Avornyo, it is in view of the low reportage and knowledge gap on oil and gas issues identified among journalists that PenplusBytes or the International Institute of ICT Journalism in partnership with STAR-Ghana decided to train ten selected journalists across the country.
Participants who are senior journalists from both the print and electronic media were selected through a competitive application process with the consent of the media house of each applicant.
The programme which is part of PenplusBytes project dubbed “Empowering the media to play active watchdog role over mining, oil and gas revenue and resources”, will run for a period of 6-months and offer ample learning opportunity for participating journalists.
The purpose of the project is to improve the coverage of oil and gas stories by the Ghanaian media leading to an increase in the quantity and quality (in terms of in-depth and investigative reporting of oil and gas stories) thus resulting in the media playing an effective watchdog role over Ghana’s oil and gas revenues and resources.
Many participants in their expectations of the training course admitted that, they lack knowledge on the oil and gas industry, thus their decision to apply to have their capacity build in order to enhance their way of reportage.
Mr. Avornyo also cautioned journalists to be factual and truthful in every story they write or report on in order not to ruin their own reputation or that of their sources. “As much as possible, try to avoid speculations and assumptions because it is ethically wrong,” he stressed.
On his part, Managing Director of ENERWISE Africa Dr. Joe Asamoah, further encouraged journalists to regularly build their capacity in new or emerging areas so as to enable them report effectively and authoritatively.
He noted that, reporters with international media organisations such as the BBC or CNN specialize in areas they are passionate about, and that also enhance their conditions of service. But unfortunately in Ghana, “you’re supposed to know everything and so you also report everything,” he observed.