General News of Saturday, 10 March 2012
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) wishes to express deep concern about the rising incidents of attack on media professionals, especially, journalists in their line of duty in recent times.
These developments have the potential to undermine the role of the media in upholding the people’s right to know which contributes to empowering people to make informed decisions.
It is for that reason that we condemn unreservedly all acts of incivility, lawlessness and intimidation of the media, particularly in an election year when we all have a responsibility to promote frank but decorous social discourse that enhances peace and harmony.
Some of the attacks on the media in recent times include one on Moses Aklorbotu, a Daily Graphic correspondent in the Western Region by a group of people demonstrating over the bad state of a road in the New Takoradi area.
A Member of Parliament Hon. Maxwell Kofi Jumah also recently rained insults on Richard Sky, Citi FM’s Parliamentary Correspondent while he was in the line of duty.
There is also the case of a group of supporters of the New Patriotic Party threatened to attack Asempa FM in Accra as a way of expressing their displeasure, about what a panel member on a program at the station was saying about their flag bearer. But for the intervention of the Police, violence would have erupted. We congratulate the Police for their timely intervention which we believe averted danger.
Currently, the raging feud between the Vice Chancellor and Registrar of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology on one side and journalists in Kumasi about alleged derogatory remarks made by the two officers about journalists in Kumasi is a matter of concern to us.
We urge journalists who fall victim to all such attacks to report to the police and to remember to formally send a report to the GJA Headquarters as required by GJA convention.
However, we wish to caution journalists against indulging in unethical behaviour that may provoke extreme response from others. Journalists must exhibit circumspection in their reportage by abiding by the provisions of the “GJA Code of Ethics” and other Guidelines of the GJA and National Media Commission.
The people’s right to know requires the media to as much as possible, truthfully inform and educate members of the public on incidents/issues, whether positive or negative, happening around them.
Even when journalists err in their work and their infractions are considered intolerable, there can be no justification for one to either physically and verbally attack them. There are avenues for seeking redress under those circumstances.
They include the right to rejoinder, complaints to the National Media Commission, Ghana Journalist Association, Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association and the Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana.
One could also choose to go to the law courts. It is without doubt that the broadcast media are the most influential, especially in terms of dissemination and interaction.
However, the GJA has long identified broadcasting as the most slippery ground on the media landscape and wishes to once again urgently appeal for the passage of the Broadcasting Law to help to improve the regulatory framework as political campaigns begin in an election.
The GJA is equally concerned about the use of hate speech and insulting language in the media especially on radio and wishes to appeal to all those who have the opportunity to engage in national discourse be it as panelist, contributors and callers to be temperate in their conversation.
We also urge political party leaders to caution their appointees and followers who engage in politics of insults. It is our belief that public condemnation of their followers for engaging in politics of insults will serve as a deterrent to others and set the tone for a healthy debate of the issues confronting our country.
SIGNED: Ransford Tetteh