Monday, December 1, 2008

Journalists told not to compromise fairness, objectivity in election coverage

Mrs Gifty Affenyi-Dadzie, Member of the Council of State on Monday launched in Accra a brochure on election coverage and called on journalists not to compromise fairness and objectivity as they covered next Sunday's presidential and parliamentary polls in Ghana
         "Let Ghana reign supreme on polling day. Let not any form of inducement compromise fairness, objectivity and the resolve to consolidate our independence and freedom.
       "May it not be said that the media opened it doors to individuals with selfish ambitions to derail our democratic culture. May God help us to be discerning in the discharge of our watchdog role," Mrs. Affenyi-Dadzie, herself a professional journalist and former President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) said, as she launched the 16-page booklet titled; "GJA Guidelines on Election Coverage."
        The booklet is a revised edition of the 1996 one. It was mandated by the National Executive of the GJA, and undertaken by a seven-member 'Group of Eminent Persons' mostly journalists and an election expert, and sponsored by the French Embassy in Ghana.
     "The revised guidelines updates previous efforts and are aims at helping journalist to cover the 2008 general elections and subsequent national and local government election more successfully," the introduction to the booklet stated.
      The Introduction added that; that the new guidelines, prepared in conjunction with the Electoral Commission, supplement the GJA Code of Ethics and the National Media Commission's Guidelines for Political Reporting and pertinent constitutional provisions.
       Some of the 23 pieces of guidelines dealt with political parties' access to the media, activities of incumbents, accuracy and fairness, avoiding conflicts and prejudice, political parties and candidates and issue-based coverage.
       It also dealt with manifestoes, bribes and other inducements, accreditation and reporting election dispute.
      The booklet comes in a time when some Ghanaians have expressed some level of disquiet about the role of the Ghanaian media in the 2008 election. Also, the Inspector General of Police had in recent times made a comment that media hype has created an impression of potentially violet elections.
     Mrs. Affenyi-Dadzie said the time had come to have empirical evidence on the performance of the media in an election year.
       She called on media practitioners to apply a great deal of circumspection in their gate keeping role during, before and after the elections.
       She added: "we should not give politicians the chance to make baseless criticisms which cannot be supported.
    " Please, let us not publicise any results which does not emanate from the Electoral Commission, Let us be careful with comments from losing candidates".

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