Feature Article of Tuesday, 23 November 2010
I have been compelled to touch on the relationship between the media and politics in our country’s fledgling democracy. There’s of course a great deal to be said about this subject, though much has been said. Media and politics are necessary for each other as politics cannot be run without the help of media and media also cannot run without politics. In today’s technological world, the purpose and role of the media cannot be underestimated in any human society as it informs the public.
The country’s mass media [especially, newspapers, TV, and radio stations] is having enormous effect on the behaviour, political belief, social attitudes, choices and thinking of the citizenry. More profound , and of an entirely different media practice is the ethno political prism through which Ghana’s media play it’s role in relation to how it should conduct itself. Yes, the advance of democracy has provided the country’s media with press freedom and freedom of speech. However, a pernicious and dangerous poison is now slipping into Ghana’s media. Politics is a dirty business and I do not think many people would disagree with this statement. But when media personalities’ journalistic ethics is usually compromised on a daily basis, then journalistic integrity and prime tenets of objectivity and impartiality of the media should be questioned.
Personally, I have no time and desire listening to journalists like the Pratt’s, Baako’s, Dogbe’s , Ephson’s and others who blatantly twist the truth on it’s head to suit their political agenda instead of unbiased and straightforward facts and admissions. Someone should tell them disseminating opinion is cheaper than verifying fact. Well, in Ghana everybody with a laptop and good command of the English language thinks they’re a journalist these days. The role of the media should be a watchdog and not attack dogs with apparent desire to lead the ‘partisan political mob’ in our politics. Although the Western media has its own challenges, my admiration for the UK and US media especially is their national agenda-setting reporting, irrespective of their liberal and conservative leanings. Obviously, Ghana’s media coverage lacks perspective. Why is the media in Ghana not focusing their attention on investigative journalism, corruption, state of health and education facilities, environment, civic education and other pertinent socio economic issues? Why should the media fabricate and disseminate false information just to harm the reputation of certain political leaders, party and scare-mongered this nation? The media can criticise political figures and political actions but it’s important they remain very objective.
Why should the country’s National Media Commission [NMC] and the Police fail to investigate journalists allegedly, on payroll of parties and being influenced by ‘brown envelopes’ and other gratifications? Such allegations are unethical and criminal. The NMC which is meant to regulate the media has been toothless and ineffective. The NMC should wake up, set regulatory framework, monitor media operations and bring sanity into the country’s media practice. A free and objective media is vital part of a free society. We need media scrutiny for public accountability but its work shouldn’t be politically-fuelled. What we [citizens] need to know is that our current media system is a fiasco. Sensationalism, omissions and distortions of critical news are now systemic. Our journalists are now partisan-propagandists and promote constant lies, deceptions, and half-truths and fully ignore the far-reaching excesses of whipping tribal sentiments. In a living democracy, it’s necessary to have broad, independent and vibrant media. But a corrupted and irresponsible media threatens the very democracy that guarantees its press freedom.