A GNA feature by Bertha Badu-Agyei
Included in the manifesto of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for the just-ended general election, which contains policy initiatives that are required for building what the party describes as the new era of social justice and equity under the better Ghana Agenda, is the recognition of the media and a list of programmes to ensure that the media are rid of all challenges to enable them to contribute to the building of the envisaged better Ghana.
The NDC recognized that the media are indispensable in achieving its better Ghana agenda goals and has therefore promised to deepen its collaboration with the media through the implementation of specific policies to sanitize the media front to ensure that media practice in Ghana, gains the respect and confidence that is needed in a democratic dispensation.
Of late, the media front has been bedeviled with many challenges, ranging from charlatans and unscrupulous persons who have taken advantage of the imprecise definition of who a journalist in Ghana is, to those who are using the media as a mercenary front to defame and tarnish the hard won reputation of people for their own personal interests.
Today, some people who claim to be journalists go to assignments that they have not been invited to, while the media houses they claim to work for are non-existent and harass organizers for what is known as ‘soli’.
Since there is no clear cut law to rope in the activities of all shades of media practitioners in Ghana, the few journalists who try to protect the image of journalism have become victims of insults and hatred from those who are tarnishing the image through their unacceptable practices.
The influx of radio stations is another factor that has led to the denigration of the media in Ghana, due to the fact that Ghana has no broadcast law to regulate broadcasting.
The public at any least opportunity chastise the media and look up to the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to act, but the Association is powerless as many of the media practitioners do not belong to the GJA.
According to the NDC manifesto, under its renewed mandate, it would assist the National Media Commission (NMC) to enact necessary regulations to ensure media standards and conduct of media practitioners, as well as provide corresponding sanctions for breaches and
mechanisms for enforcing those sanctions, and also provide resources from the newly established Media Development Fund to the NMC to decentralize its operations throughout the country.
That would make the NMC more accessible to the general public and to strengthen its oversight and monitoring functions by increasing its staffing levels as well as use the fund to sponsor journalists to continuously improve their capacities.
The NDC says it would encourage parliament to enact the Broadcasting Act, in order to set standards for the electronic media and complete the permanent campus for the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) at Okponglo in the Grater Accra Region in order to expand and improve facilities for the training of journalists.
The NDC in its 2008 campaign manifesto gave a similar promise and the party claimed that having been given the mandate in 2008, it extended the regular ‘Meet the Press’ series and instituted the annual presidential interaction with the media at the seat of government, as well as the establishment of the one million cedis Media Development Fund for capacity building of the media.
It also claimed to have ensured that the Freedom of Information Bill was finally laid before parliament after 12 years and also ensured the expansion of the media landscape through the allocation of more radio frequencies by the National Communications Authority (NCA) for the
establishment of FM stations throughout the country and an increase in the number of newspapers and magazines.
Now that the elections are over and the NDC government, led by President John Dramani Mahama, has been sworn in for another four-year term, Ghanaians are looking up to him to redeem all the promises made in its manifesto because it was their firm belief that it would advance the Better Ghana’ agenda and based on that the electorate gave the party their mandate.
As a journalist, I believe all well meaning journalists share the same view that the promises of the NDC for the media, particularly the one on the remuneration of journalists, are just what the media need to redeem their image and to be able to perform their duties as the Fourth Estate of the realm without being seen as obstacles or tools manipulated by a few to draw back Ghana’s progress.GNA