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Last updateTue, 15 Aug 2017 10pm

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Media responsibility in an election year

Journalism is a dignified profession that must not be seen advocating being only free to operate; it must equally check itself and behave responsibly. This noble profession thrives on the freedom of speech.

However, Freedom of speech does not mean unfettered or unlimited freedom. It rather means responsible use of freedom.
As a young journalist, I am puzzled at how the media in Ghana has consistently redefined the freedom of speech especially during election periods. Just 7 months into Ghana’s presidential and parliamentary election, the airwaves have become a boxing arena where politicians trade not blows but insults.

Some Ghanaian media houses, especially the FM Stations, have become spouts for insults and unwarranted political machinations, engaging in character assassinations, innuendos, libel, larceny, treason, felony, among others.
As a journalism student at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, I was taught to uphold professionalism and put the interest of the nation first in all matters.
I however wonder why more experienced journalists will reduced their level of professionalism and stoop so low.

Sad to state, some of our media practitioners have abandoned professionalism and have taken stands in the political arena, brazenly displaying their political orientations and leanings.  Some of them have blatantly been championing the cause of their favoured political parties and patrons.  One might conclude that these media houses have their palms greased and their pockets lined by their patrons.  Real professionals should be apolitical, non-partisan, neutral, independent, impartial and astute so that they can win the trust of the public and serve them faithfully and effectively.

As a young and upcoming journalist,if this is the kind of example being set for us, how can we maintain professionalism and put public interest first when those leading the way have soiled the hard toil of a few who are struggling to maintain the integrity of this profession?

The media has been given enormous freedom to operate, however its practitioners should note that freedom comes with responsibilities. Freedom does not walk alone, it walks with responsibility. It can be compared to a child and its mother; separating them is an attempt to deny the child a motherly love and the mother, the exercising of a natural duty to show love, care and concern.

Media analysts have posited that the media is the fourth estate of the realm; the media is a watchdog of society but the question remains who watches the watch dog?
The media should begin to take a deep look into its activities and pragmatically make efforts to ensure responsibility towards the public.

As World Press Freedom Day will be observed on 4th May, the media in Ghana should reflect on their responsibility towards the nations and the general public. As the nation gets close to an election, the media should see itself as a key player towards a peaceful election. The media are essential to democracy, and a democratic election is impossible without media.


Richard .M. Dzikunu

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