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Opinions of Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Columnist: Anim-Mensah, Alexander

Abundance of Free Resources in Plain Sight to Shape the Media

The use of the abundant technical experts and retired resources in educating the general population in areas of radio across the nation is lacking. Radio stations have emerged as powerful and excellent tools which reach the length and breadth of Ghana with vital information; and has won the listening ears of the masses. And, we all know that what we hear and see affects us consciously and unconsciously.
In this era, where there are radios everywhere, the ears are always positioned for the latest news, latest music, latest stories in town and excellent educative programs. This provides an opportunity to educate the masses with the right information for Ghana’s development. Consequently, the need and opportunity to tap into the better side of its use for Ghana’s growth.
We should all yearn for the truth although it hurts sometimes; but that is what will set us free as we learn from our past mistakes and stop repeating them. We are all not perfect as we are already aware but as we focus and keep striving towards excellence, more doors will open for us; and there we will see many opportunities availing for more improvements through constructive criticisms.
I do listen to several radios around the world and I have noticed by comparison some of many things the Ghanaian radio stations are missing out especially the use of many of the existing free abundant technical expertise both employed and retired to improve their programs. This, I humbly suggest will limit some of the mispresentations and misinformation that are put out there for the Ghanaian public to digest. One should know that sitting behind the microphone at the studio is an opportunity to do well in the nation building. Accordingly, what one says or promotes goes a long way to build a nation or otherwise. Abusing or underutilizing such an opportunity is a lost to the development of the great nation of ours.
Though, most media generate revenues through advertisements which in many ways are coupled to sensational programs like political discussions and top hit music presentations. My view here is, care should be taken to avoid promoting extreme character assassinations or the use of derogatory words for the sake of generating money or popularity sake. The choice of words and the tone mean a lot when describing issues or situations. In my humble view, some of the presentation by some radios incites political charged atmosphere, distort the truth, create inaccuracies, and over exaggerates on petty issues with a purpose only best known to them.
Presenting the right and truthful information using the right choice of words and connotations for the situation and contexts goes a long way for tomorrow’s nation stability, safety and peace. Note that utterances that cause worries, fear, demeaning, panicking, etc. when not properly managed cause stresses and that could have health impacts overtime.
In situation where one is uncertain, consulting rather than speculating or relying on hearsay to propagate unwarranted information that could be misleading or cause commotions should be prevented or dimmed low. Information should be screened when necessary by people behind the scenes in the studios rather than presenting some unnecessary raw information which some may be inappropriate. Care should be taken on releasing information that has the potential to jeopardize a nation’s security which I cite Rwanda as an example where journalism propagated the wrong information that led to the carnage. It will be great when the interest of the country is put at stake in the release of sensitive information at the wrong time.
Moreover, to curb some of the above issues there is a need for proper information screening or frequent training as deemed necessary. Hence, the reasons to engage some of the abundant free resources/ experts both employed and/or retired to assist in proper educating Ghanaians. Note that some of these resource could serve as mentors. Additionally, considering guiding principles to promote ethics, treating people with respects, making reasonable judgment, and not being too sensational and judgmental in the release of sensitive information at the wrong time among others are important not to break the horse’s back.
Unconsciously, some presenters have aligned themselves as all knowing behaving as intelligence or nation security personal but do not know how to manage or present sensitive information. I will suggest they give on to Caesar what is due him since a presenter does not work for the intelligence or national security. The question is what can be presented by radios and what should not? Does the radios have sufficient evidence on some of the sensitive issues they deemed accurate? Are they free to present some issues without seeking advice? What procedures is involved when radios are releasing sensitive issues at the wrong time? What limit can a radio stations go? How well is the radio working closely with law enforcement on sensitive issues?
The above does not mean to politicize radio or one should not call “a spade a spade” but just being careful in the handling of situations and information, the use of right words, and being polite for the sake of the listening masses. I know it is a normal practice for Ghanaians to rain insults easily without having the right information or knowing the truth; being patient is golden. I know it is a normal practice for Ghanaians to conclude while not having sufficient evidence only to say I am sorry when confronted. However, some incompetent personnel and personalities not admitting the truth; causing shame and Ghana’s downfall needs to be purged with the right words since their action can cripple the masses.
Finally, Ghana’s public sector being the most employing and retiring with a minimum retirement age of 55 makes available abundant retired resources to tap into to shape the media industry thereby educating the nation positively. One will be surprised to know how these retirees are willing to assist for free or a token. Ghana is developing and the numerous radios have added more blessings to the lives of many as well as the nation development, hence, should be applauded as being an effective positive tool. Let us note that the media is one of the most powerful educational resources and should be used appropriately. The information that goes around today makes the people of tomorrow. This also means that what one sows today is what one reaps tomorrow. Why cry and wonder if Ghana is reaping wrongly? It was the wrong seeds sowed yesterday. Your actions today reflects tomorrow.

God Bless

Alexander Anim-Mensah, PhD
Dayton Ohio