Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere, Chairman of the National Media Commission, said at the weekend the Commission had proposed state funding for private media establishments in the country.
He said at a media review workshop organized by the Commission in Kumasi, the Commission had also initiated schemes that would compel state agencies to give advertisements to the private media.
The workshop was on the theme, “Towards a free and responsible media: some reflections” and was attended by 45 media practitioners drawn from Brong-Ahafo and Ashanti regions.
Ambassador Blay-Amihere disclosed that currently there were 500 registered newspapers and 150 FM radio stations in the country and state funding would help uphold responsible and high journalistic standards.
The NMC chairman observed that even though the lack of resources hindered the operations of the media there was the need for owners of private media houses to ensure that practitioners adhered to the ethics of the profession.
Irresponsible journalism will undermine press freedom and create a polarized society, he said, adding as a result of irresponsible journalistic practice in Africa some countries were on the verge of enacting laws to ensure that any person who did not have at least a degree in journalism would not be allowed to practise.
Ambassador Blay-Amihere said even though the constitution of Ghana did not allow such requirement there was the need for media practitioners to further their education in the Universities to meet Western standards of journalism. “The constitution is made by the people and can be amended if the need arises”, he stated.
He advised the media not to rely solely on the Commission to promote their welfare but must also consider fighting their own cause to sustain press freedom.
Ambassador Blay-Amihere gave the assurance the NMC would do what it could to ensure that media practitioners operated in an atmosphere of peace and without any intimidation in the course of their duties. Dr. Audrey Gadzekpo, a member of the NMC expressed concern about the high level of politics in the media to the detriment of other social topics that would promote accelerated national development.
“Politics forms part of journalism but too much politicization of national issues will not help a developing country like Ghana”, she stated. Dr. Gadzekpo, a lecturer at the School of Communications at the University of Ghana, Legon, said lack of enough funds should not be the justification to undermine the integrity of the Ghanaian media.
She noted with regret that even though the media had made great strides in Ghana’s history it had failed to contribute to the advocacy for, among others, the passage of the Freedom of Information bill.
Dr. Gadzekpo stated a research had revealed a number of challenges in the areas of news gathering and reporting, story selection, lack of fairness, balance and accuracy confronted the Ghanaian media. “Journalism is not necessarily acquiring formal education but also the passion and zeal to learn more in the job industry”, she added.
Earlier in a welcoming address, Nana Yaw Osei, Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) noted that since the NMC was inaugurated in 1993, this was the first time that a journalist had chaired the Commission.