Press Freedom is an essential component of each country’s development. Free press means an effective watchdog role by the media without fear or favor.
May 3 has been dedicated to celebrate journalists around the world and to further advocate for complete freedom devoid of manipulation by those in power. The day is also used to throw more light on the several abuses meted out on journalists in the discharge of their civic duties.
As part of this year’s celebrations, some journalists with Salt 95.9 FM have shared their thoughts on the theme for this year’s celebrations.
JOURNALISM WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR – SAMUEL OWIREDU ACHEAMPONG (2gah) – Host, Me Mpesuaso
The press in Ghana has transitioned since independence to contemporary times. The transition has largely been due to the system of governance.
Before Ghana embraced full democratic rule, there had been several military rulers interspersed between independence (1957) and 1992. This meant press freedom was never assured.
In 1992 a new constitution was drafted to serve as a legal framework for governments.
One of the areas of protection the new Constitution highlighted was Articles 162 & 163 which spelt out press freedom and freedom of expression.
The drafting of the Constitution marked a turning point for media liberalisation in Ghana leading to increased private participation. This meant the “culture of silence” around particular subjects would not continue.
The issue of Media Freedom and the ability of journalists to be able to do their jobs without “fear or favour” has been in the headlines recently.
Two journalists of ModernGhana, Emmanuel Ajarfor Abugri & Emmanuel Britwum were arrested somewhere in July,2019 by the National Security Ministry. The two were accused of hacking competitor emails as well as writing articles deemed offensive to the Sector Minister.
Ahmed Suale and a lady in Ahafo Region who were journalists were killed.
Manasseh Azzure Awuni, an investigative journalist was forced into exile and Emmanuel Adati, a reporter in the Upper West Region went into hiding after his life was threatened severally.
These trends show that the 1992 constitution had good intentions yet the state continues to capitalise on what it calls the”National Interest”&”National Security” to justify taking steps that amount to suppression of the media.
Journalists can do better when they have the right information. It took the country until last year,2019, to pass the Right to Information Law which came into effect in 2020. Even with that,do we get the information we need to feed our listeners?
Recently, the government came under serious criticism for not being honest with figures in respect to COVID-19 cases. It took an address by the information ministry to set records straight that government was not hiding anything from Ghanaians as it was being speculated.
This shows that Media Freedom in Ghana was granted with unwilling undertones.
Another unresolved issue is the role of the National Media Commission (NMC) which has as one of its key functions the promotion of press freedom and media independence.
Even though the NMC has existed since 1993, it has been incapacitated by weak enforcement framework.
To conclude, media freedom has been deteriorating around the world over the past decade. Some world leaders have made attempts to throttle the independence of the media.
Experience has shown that, Press Freedom can rebound from even lengthy stints of repression when given the opportunity. The basic desire for democratic liberties, including access to honest and fact- based journalism, can never be extinguished.
I wish all journalists a happy World Press Freedom Day and Let’s all join forces to fight COVID-19, our common enemy.
JOURNALISM WITHOUT FEAR – AKUA SIKA – Host, Salt Drive
The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY.
It is mainly to raise awareness of the importance of press freedom and also to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression.
This day is also used to remember fallen heroes in the world of journalism. Examples are Slain journalists in Kabul and victims of mass shooting at The Capital newspaper in Maryland on June 28, 2018.
On 14th March 2002, four people were killed in Europe. Similar deaths have been recorded globally. Countries like Abkhazia, Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Crotia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Georgia and Africa as a continent have all lost great journalists through the hands of men.
These and other factors bring forth the theme ‘’JOURNALISM WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR’’ as the duty of a journalist is to inform, educate and entertain citizens.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, has highlighted the media’s role and how press freedom plays a part in the fight against the virus.
‘’At a time when we are mired in worry and uncertainty because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, free information is essential to helping us face, understand, think about and overcome this crisis. We must consider the vital importance of information in this situation: informing the public means giving everyone the means of combatting the illness by adopting appropriate practices. This is why the Organization has teamed up with the rest of the United Nations family to fight the “infodemic” of rumours and disinformation which is exacerbating the pandemic and putting lives at risk. To help put an end to the problem, we have joined forces to promote two major social-media campaigns, Together for Facts, Science and Solidarity and Don’t Go Viral.’’
According to research over 880 journalists have been killed around the world since 1992. In summary every man needs to carry out their respective duties without fear and Journalists are no exceptions to the rule.
Happy World Press Day to all Journalists. Do continue the good work for God and for the nation.