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Opinions of Friday, 13 July 2012

Columnist: Andoh, Charles

The Media And The 2012 Elections

“Ma 4man yi ho nhia wo, Ghanaman y1 woara wodze”, goes a popular Akan song.

As a Student Journalist, I have been made to know that a Journalist is the eyes, ears and nose of his readers, listeners or viewers.

The role of the media in every country cannot be underrated especially in Ghana; being the fourth estate of the realm.

But can we all say that the media in Ghana is up to the task?

Indeed, there is no denying the fact that, “democracy without the media is like a vehicle without wheels” – Dr. Joyce Aryee. She further argues that any country without a media is like a country ready for civil war. Hence, the media in every country is the backbone of democracy.

The media also play a significant role by reminding politicians about their “gargantuan” promises during election. It is this same media that add value to people’s lives.

Being the cardinal point in nation building, the media also help build and mould people.

It also takes the media to build and to destroy a society.

Furthermore, it is the media that is expected to form, inform and transform a society – Ghana.

As indicated earlier as the fourth estate of the realm, the media is the conscience of the nation to the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature. Simply put, the media play a “watchdog” role to the three arms of government.

However, the media in Ghana has experienced a lot of criticisms and rebukes from Ghanaians in recent times as being the platform for people to use to cause trouble and confusion in the country.

Election is fast approaching and Ghanaians expect a lot from the media as they go about their duties. We were all in this country when a minister used the media to incite one ethnic group against the other. In fact, such a comment from Hon. Kennedy Agyapong (MP for Assin – North) should be frowned upon. It is this same media Hon. Baba Jamal used to declare “Jihad” in his constituency (Akwatia). As if that was not enough, it was this same media the flag Berra for the New Patriotic Party (NPP); Nana Akufo Addo used to declare “all die be die” in the 2012 elections. Indeed, such a comment has become a public critique.

It seems the media has forgotten so soon what happened in Rwanda in 1994. In his book, “The Media and the Rwanda Genocide”, Allan Thompson recounts the major role the media played in fuelling the killings in Rwanda between the Tutsis and the Hutus.

He further argues that the local radio and print media in Rwanda were used as a tool to encourage the two major ethnic groups to fight each other.

Indeed, Radio – Télévision Libre Milles (RTLM) was found and owned by political actors who were associated with the then ruling regime.

Till date, the RTLM has not been left out of the hook as being the platform for the Rwandan war.

Do the media in Ghana want to be known as a platform for causing confusion? Certainly, this will only be seen through their reportage.

On December 7, 2012, Ghanaians will be going to the polls. For this reason, the eyes of the world will be on Ghana through the media.

I therefore want to appeal to our media practitioners to remain objective, factual and fair in their reportage each time.

The media must also know that like the prophets of old, they speak for people – Ghanaians. They must also not entertain those who want to use their platform to incite people to cause ethnic violence. Rather, they must whip up the sense of patriotism of Ghanaians. The media must bear in mind always that they are building a society in which they themselves will always live in.

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome once said, “if you build your society as a Journalist based on falsehood, you’ll be living in it in the long run”.

My humble opinion to the umbrella body – Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) is that, they must set their priorities right and be up and doing. GJA must also wake up from their slumber and set up policies to check on all the charlatans in the system.

I also humbly appeal to Parliament as a matter of urgency to pass the Broadcasting Law to help regulate the activities of the media. Finally, media men will be held accountable for their vocation one day. Therefore, they must not abuse their jobs.

Ghana needs peace before; during and after the 2012 elections and we are all counting on the media.

Long live Ghana, long live the media. God bless us all.

Charles Andoh; Student – Ghana Institute of Journalism