The Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr. Kwesi Gyan-Apenteng has warned that, “Any Journalist who becomes a spokesperson for a candidate or for any political party during election ceases to be a journalist”. He emphasized that “If a journalist who has the privilege of being called a journalist is abusing it by becoming actively involved as a frontline communicator for any political party or candidate, that person is clearly violating the ethical basis of the profession and must be sanctioned”.
Mr. Gyan-Apenteng gave the warning in an exclusive interview with Savannahnews in Tamale during the official inauguration of a seven Member Northern Region Media Advisory Committee (NRAMC) recently. According to him, journalists were supposed to be resolute, neutral, fair and balanced in their line of duty and also serve as the conduit for peace, unity and fairness but not to succumb to any influence either political or monetary.
Mr. Gyan-Apenteng noted that the media must strictly adhere to the guidelines and principles of election reporting and not only be part of the fairness agenda, but to ensure that the election was peaceful and that the outcome truly reflected the will of the people.
“What this means is that we [journalists] must give fair access to all issues and to all candidates. And even more importantly, we must become alert to efforts or strategies some people might use to probably abuse and misuse the media by forcing their weights through to get certain false allegations and some unfair comments published or aired”.
The NMC Chairman therefore encouraged the media to understand the issues as they were framed to avoid any possible abuses by politicians and their candidates in their desperations to win power.
Mr. Gyan-Apenteng also encouraged the journalists not to attach personal emotions, desires and partisan views in their reportage especially in the 2016 election which promises to be crucial, but should rather place high premium on the checking and cross-checking of facts in every information they come across.
Some prominent journalists in Ghana who were supposed to be leading the way for other young journalists to follow to ensure the codification and preservation of the moral and ethical standards for media practitioners, are rather those being “cowed” into needless politics and doing the bids for self-seeking politicians and political parties.
When Savannahnews posed the question to the NMC Chairman on why those popular journalists [names withheld] who have turned into spokespersons for some political parties were still priding themselves as “senior journalists” and the commission [NMC] was silence about them, Mr. Gyan-Apenteng surprisingly refused to defect those journalists.
Meanwhile, the NRMAC is chaired by Mr. George K. Debrie, a Deputy Registrar, Council Secretariat at University For Development Studies (UDS), and is to strengthen the Commission’s ability to monitor and engage with media houses in the region to live up to standard.
Establishment of the Regional Media Advisory Committee, supported by the European Union, is also to assist the NMC deal with matters relating to media and peace-building; and also help settle complaints by or against the media in the region, in accordance with article 167 (b) of the 1992 Constitution.
The others included Mr. Umar Muktar, Deputy Registrar Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS)-Coordinator; Mr. Caesar Abagali, Regional Manager GNA and Regional Chairman Ghana Journalist Association (GJA)-member; Mr. Alhassan Musah, Lecturer UDS-member; Hajia Hajara Telly, National President Federation of Muslim Women-member; Mariama Kate Suleman NCCE District Director, member and Adam Eliasu a renowned media practitioner, development consultant and academic member.
Mr. George K. Debrie expressed gratitude to the authorities for the power invested in them and promised to team up with others to ensure the committee achieves the purpose for the establishment.