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Regional News of Friday, 18 February 2022

Source: GNA

We have not created a culture of silence for journalists – Minister

Deputy Minister of Information, Fatimatu Abubakar Deputy Minister of Information, Fatimatu Abubakar

Ms. Fatimatu Abubakar, the Deputy Minister of Information, has debunked claims that journalists are being silenced and are wallowing in a culture of silence under the current administration of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

In as much as the media were guaranteed freedom by the constitution, she said they also ought to practise responsible and ethical journalism.

She said this in an interview with the media after delivering an address at the 2022 World Radio Day celebration organised by the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) in Accra.

The comment followed recent arrests of journalists at local radio and television stations for their alleged comments while hosting programmes.

She said journalists who felt unsafe in their line of duty could report to the National Media Commission (NMC) for necessary actions to be taken to safeguard their wellbeing.

“Media practitioners have a responsibility to disseminate right and well researched verifiable information,” she added.

Speaking on the theme, “Radio and Trust,” Ms. Abubakar said the success of radio was partly due to the use of local languages in broadcasting to better serve everyone especially those without formal education.

She entreated radio show hosts and all journalists to use their media platforms responsibly to serve the public better.

Mr. Affail Monney, President of Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), in a solidarity message, said if Ghana was touted as the most peaceful nation in West Africa and the second in Africa, it was principally because radio provided avenues for people to settle their differences in non-violent ways.

“Although some radio stations are filled with outright lies, blatant spin, and unpleasant noise,” he said, those professional sins did not and could not, justify any inhuman mode of arrest an erring journalist.

“The growing use of prosecutorial and judicial power to punish them can also exert a significant chill in press freedom and erode the robust foothold of our free media system, which is a reference point and standard measure for Africa. Accordingly, we urge resort to civil remedies to deal with media infractions.

“Indeed, we do not need Zoomlion to fumigate the media space, despite the putrid stench on certain radio stations. It is the responsibility of practitioners themselves to do their work with critical sensibility and utmost responsibility. Press freedom has no absolute value and must always be lodged in the memory of all journalists,” Mr. Monney stated.

He, however, said the time had come for the authorities and stations to prioritise the acquisition of delayed broadcast equipment to help sieve offending materials before they got to the public.

Mr. Abdourahmane Diallo, UNESCO Country Representative, said radio broadcasts in Ghana had built trust among Ghanaians through timely delivery of information and engagement of their audience over topical issues.

Using digital radio with visuals and sign language where audience with hearing impairments could also subscribe to a radio show, he said would make the work of Ghanaian radio stations complete and more satisfying.

Speaking on press freedom in Ghana, he said journalists were entitled to freedom of expression, access to information, and overall safety.

“I express our solidarity to the radio journalists attacked recently. It is affront to freedom of the media which should be condemned in no uncertain terms,” he added.

Professor Eric Opoku Mensah, the Deputy Rector, GIJ, said the GIJ in collaboration with the Ministry of Information was organising a capacity building and enhancement programme for journalists.

He said the Institute believed sharing of knowledge and best practices would help to let government handle power in a more acceptable way and the journalists work in a more professional manner.