Editorial: Journalism and Our Peace

JournalismLord Acton’s Aphorism, ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ seems to be truer now in Ghana than at the time this observation was made.  The media, perceived to be the fourth estate of government, seem to be abusing its power more than the other estates of government.

Press Freedom or Freedom of the media is generally defined as or is the freedom of communication and expression through mediums including various electronic media and published materials. The media is riding on this provision to write and do whatever they like forgetting that where their right ends, another’s begin. This situation if unchecked could be injurious to the peace of this nation.

The media in Ghana seem to be taking a particular advantage of the constitutional provision in Article 162(4) which guarantees the freedom and the independence of the media. It states (4) Editors and publishers of newspapers and other institutions of mass media shall not be subject to control or interference by government nor shall they be penalized or harassed for their editorial opinions and views or the content of their publication.

The print media write whatever, whenever and about whomever without the least thoughts of the consequences of such publications. It gets quite worrying when journalists put out stories in the public domain only to retract them later with apology. I wonder whether they think of the implications before publishing some of these violence-inciting and politically-dividing write ups.

Even though I do not fully side with the Supreme Court ruling which saw the incarceration of Ken Kuranchie the editor of The Daily Searchlight, I think it will serve as a deterrent to some of these reckless journalists whose actions and inactions are contributing whether knowingly or unknowingly to the deepening polarization of the country.

More disturbing is the way some of the radio stations that have sprung up lately operate especially with their political talk/analysis programmes. They permit anyone at all on their programmes to say anything at all without a second thought of the implications of their utterances. While some are bold enough to bring to some of these reckless political commentators and serial callers to order, others allow them to spew the sum total of every nonsense inside of them causing unnecessary fear and panic among the citizenry.

Unfortunately members of parliament who are suppose to know better go and sit on radio stations to tell blatant lies; lies that even a class one pupil can figure out. These same people turn around to bemoan the breakdown of morality in our society. They seem to forget that they are the very ones we pick up these traits from. Sometimes things get so heated up to the extent that respected men of their caliber trade words on such political talk shows. Worst of it all, hosts of such programs allow some of these exchanges to be aired without any restriction.

Odewale in the ‘Gods Are Not To Be Blamed’ said, “When the frog in front falls in a pit, others behind take caution”. If journalists in Ghana want the peace Ghana is enjoying to be sustained, then they should be responsible in their reportage. The Rwandan civil war should at least educate them on the dangers of irresponsible journalism.

God Bless Our Motherland, Ghana!

Source: Andrews Boadi-Manu (nkrann@gmail.com)

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