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General News of Friday, 3 January 2003

Source: The Ghanaian Times

Abolish Ministry of Information and Prez Affairs -Panelist

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Panellists at the ongoing 54th Annual New Year School, on Thursday, called for the scrapping of the Ministry of Information and Presidential Affairs headed by Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey (pictured).

Rather, they suggested that the Information Service Department (ISD) should be strengthened and supported to handle information from the government, which it had already been doing.

The panellists were Yaw Boadu Ayeboafo, Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission, Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, Senior Lecturer of the School of Communication Studies, and George Sydney Abugri, Features Editor of the Graphic Communications Group Limited.

Among the participants were Ministers of State, Members of Parliament (MPs), District Chief Executives (DCEs), Regional Coordinating Directors, Directors of Education and Civil Society Organisations.

The panellists were of the view that there were already appointed government spokespersons who were competent enough to assist the ISD in propagating government policies and programmes.

They also stressed the need for the National Media Commission (NMC) to be empowered to ensure sanity in the media profession. According to them, the media was so polarised and was moving away from watchdog role to the kind that was likely to cause disintegration of the nation if left unchecked.

Boadu-Ayeboafo, speaking on ?the Media and National Integration? noted that, the media sometimes published stories that turned out to be incorrect, but placed the blame largely on the lack of cooperation on the part of a section of the public whom some journalists approached for information on particular subjects.

He, therefore, called on the public to be willing to release information to journalists to enable them report accurately. Boadu-Ayeboafo appealed to those who had been aggrieved by publications, not to resort to the courts as their first option but rather seek redress through an amicable settlement with the publishers.

Dr Gadzekpo was not happy with the proliferation of radio stations and newspapers in the country. ?It is better having just a few newspapers and radio stations in the country and better resourcing them to perform effectively than having a whole lot of them performing below standard,? she said.

For his part, Abugri urged media practitioners to have basic knowledge of the history and culture of various ethnic groups in the country to enable them to report accurately on issues bothering on ethnicity and religion.

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