Editorial: Press index ranking has exposed our plights

The Reporters Without Borders, in its 2022 World Press Freedom index scored Ghana 67.43%, placing the country 60th on the world index that monitored 180 countries.

The 2022 rank showed a rather abysmal performance, given that Ghana had descended from a score of 78.67%, 30th on the world index in 2021 to the current 60th.

Therefore, it is not out of place for the public uproar that greeted the announcement, from the media and some political fanatics, who saw this as a huge bait to release their political arsenals.

Often times, when such reports are released with a representation of the country, it is the government of the day that feels the heat or the praise, thanks to the nature of our politics, where we see no good in each other.

As usual, the government is being bombarded with criticisms from across the country, with people recalling issues of media attack that had occurred over the years under this administration. However, we do not believe the media has been or is being attacked under the present government only, but we will never justify any attack on the media.

Suffice it to say, the 2022 RSF report listed some methodologies employed for the ranking, one of which caught our attention, culminating in this Editorial, to shed light on the need for us as a media to also look to strengthen our front.

Each country or territory’s score, according to the report, was evaluated using five contextual indicators that reflected the press freedom situation in all of its complexity: political context, legal framework, economic context, socio-cultural context and safety.

We have followed the public debate on the report and have observed that, all but the economic context has been lost on us, even us the media. We are not discussing it.

The report said: “In Ghana, most media outlets face financial problems, reflected in low salaries and poor working conditions for journalists. Frequently, new newspapers are launched only to fold in a few months, due to the inability to meet production costs.

“State-owned media, for their part, benefit from government advertising contracts and payment for publishing news items. Government advertising is awarded through a non-transparent and inequitable process.”

This is a very critical observation the report made, though not alien to us, but then, deserves more attention than the wild goose chase in the political context.

We are of the view that, the media must find a very sustainable means of being economically stable, to wean itself from the bowels of politicians, if they do not want to be unfairly treated.

It is trite knowledge that the profession in general is not generating a lot of revenue due to several factors, including the advent of social media.

Businesses that hitherto would advertise in a newspaper, for instance, now prioritise the new media, which gives immediate results, a development which the traditional media is gradually adjusting to.

Given that the media rely heavily on advertisements to cater for production costs and remunerations, we believe that the observations made in the report, under the economic context, was a wake-up call to the inky fraternity.

As such, the earlier we strategise to be economically sound, the better for us. With that, even if the public sector, which is steered by the government of the day, does not help, the media would still be relevant. The private sector would even pay more if they are convinced.

Nonetheless, we commend the government for responding to the report, in which the information minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said among others that, “To address the RFS’ concern about the poor economic conditions of most journalists in the country, government will continue engagements with media associations, including media owners to improve the working and economic conditions of journalists.”

However, if we all admit that democracy cannot thrive without a vibrant media, then our safety must be guaranteed. Because when there is no security for those the constitution refers to as the fourth pillar of democracy, there would be no media to help safeguard democracy.


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