Feature Article of Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Columnist: Twumasi, Patrick
The resilience, influence and supremacy of the media can never in any period of human generation be under emphasized. Whoever attempts to contest the might of the gatekeepers will always be with themselves surprises. There is the unchallenged ability of the profession also referred as the fourth estate of the realm to set the agenda. This prerogative has never been down played in the history of the ink profession. It is a known fact that, the media is not always successful at telling their audience what to think, but they are quite successful at telling us what to think about. Subsequently, it is not what we think to be important, but what the media tells us to think about. This argues that, although different people may feel equally different about an issue at hand, most people feel the same issues are of importance. Therefore, agenda setting functions of the mass media is to select and emphasise certain issues and thereby make these to be perceived as important by the public.
The current news story which has created a fug in both the print and electronic media concerning the businessman, Mr. Alfred Abgesi Woyome seem to be chocking some Ghanaians daily from dawn to dusk. In a country where a greater percentage of radio and television thrive on the print media will only have to be driven by what the latter putout. Many who enjoy the Woyome saga urge for more. It is different for those who hold the view that, over emphasis on the biggest judgment debt ever awarded in the country’s recent past could be at the deepest expense of some all important national and development news and focus. Newspapers beam and continue to light up the Ghanaian media atmosphere with all sorts of headlines which appealed and apprehended the curiosity of patrons, as well as the chartered newsstand readers’ fraternity.
Besides, there are citizens who considered the repeated publication of the Woyome saga as a while away of precious print media space and electronic air time. Hence, there have been calls for a quick shift from the Woyomeism fixated media publications and broadcast. This is the deciding prowess of the ink fraternity. How have you construed the statement, “The pen is mightier than the sword? The profession of the pen and note pad can constructively publish countless scripts without the sword haven drawn a drop of blood. The clout of the mass media to take and drive along with a chosen topic for a period while holding spell bound their audience has amazed many since the inception of this noble profession.
The 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana has it enshrined in spirit and letter the freedom and responsibilities of the media. Article 162, clause 1, grants the media freedom and independence, as clause 2, also insulate it against any form of censorship. Again, clause 3 of Article 162 objects to any form of impediment to the establishment of private press or media, while clause 4 as well shields media editors, publishers and institutions of the mass media from control and interference by Government in the pursuance of their duties. This liberty and sovereignty of the media has not being in short supply in Ghana. Nevertheless, the extreme dragging of topical news stories which could portray the media landscape to an outsider as a sheer disposition of incompetence and deliberate inability should be rescinded. The strength of the media to chose and highlight on issues should also not be abused to the detriment of some equally demanding national challenges. Nonetheless, matters arising from daily interactions between society and her duties would always require the stress on pertinent thoughts which has the capacity to generate friction.
However, it is worth paying heed to the set agenda with a curious mind that is capable of inferring among lines of deductive arguments debating highlighted matters of the day. For the reason that, even though a subject may gain wide media coverage that could span days into weeks, it is prudent to give the gatekeepers the benefit of doubt and keenly give in to publications. This assumed position of the media might drown the threshold of voices of society agitating for a shift in focus and direction.
At all material moment the media holds the prerogative to set the agenda for critical and meaningful debate. This is the power of the media no doubt.
Patrick Twumasi (0209045931)