Friday, August 1, 2008

GJA revises Election Guidelines

A draft Revised Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) Guidelines on Election Coverage to serve as an essential reminder for journalists and media houses during major elections was on Thursday presented to the GJA.

The revision of the Draft Guidelines has been developed as part of efforts by the GJA to improve the quality of media coverage of elections.

The document, sponsored by the French Embassy, was drafted by six eminent persons of the GJA and a senior official of the Electoral Commission.

They are Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, Acting Director, School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Mr Kwaku Rockson, Acting Rector, Ghana Institute of Journalism, Mr Bonnah Koomson, Senior Lecturer, School of Communication and Mr Cyril Acolatse, a veteran broadcast journalist.

The rest are Mr. Fritz Andoh, Managing Editor, The Standard Newspaper, Ms Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, Editor, Ghanaian Times and Mr Kofi Arhin, Director of Elections, Electoral Commission. The draft highlights legal, professional and ethical issues intended to make the media or the journalist balanced, fair, accurate, reliable and timely in their reportage of political actives and treatment of issues and personalities.

The overriding objective is to enable the electorate to make informed and intelligent choices during elections.

"Sixteen years of our Fourth Republic has seen the Ghanaian media assert themselves in the promotion of free expression and generally in the protection of democratic values including the election. We believe the media's coverage has provided them with lessons that need to be taken account of in order to improve coverage, hence the revision," GJA President Ransford Tetteh said at the ceremony. He noted that elections were important because they sorted out the question of who should be entrusted with the lead management of the affairs of the state as well as constitute the source of legitimacy for political leadership in a democratic dispensation.

The revision of the guidelines, he said, was in line with its commitment, among other aims and objectives, to promote high professional standard, integrity and media accountability and regard it to be in consonance with the duty to promote good governance and social cohesion by members of the media.

He commended the French Embassy for the sponsorship of the review as well as publication and circulation of the document, adding that the draft was the first step in the process. A spokesperson of the committee, Ms Yeboah-Afari said what society expected from the media was to empower the masses and ensure that eligible voters participated in elections in a meaningful way and voted for the right candidate.

Madam Evelyn Decorps, Charg=E9 d'Affaires of the French Embassy, said she was pleased with freedom of expression in the country and noted that the GH¢15,000 sponsorship was the Embassy's contribution towards the elections and commended the group of eminent persons for a job well done.

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