Thursday, January 22, 2009

AUCC lauds media on coverage of Elections 2008 but…

 – Mr. Kojo Yankah, President of the Governing Council of African University College of Communications (AUCC), on Thursday lauded the role of the Ghanaian media in the 2008 general elections.
      He, however, condemned certain acts of non-professionalism by a section of the media, especially some radio stations, which nearly derailed the peaceful atmosphere in the country and created disturbances in certain parts.
      Mr. Yankah, who was addressing a press briefing on issues of election coverage in Africa, particularly in Ghana and Kenya, said Africa had come a long way in terms of accepting democratic change of governments through the ballot box and the media, being a partner in the entire process of the change, must not allow a few bad nuts to derail the entire process.
     He said the AUCC, in collaboration with the International Institute for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) Journalism dubbed; PenPlusBytes, monitored the elections and thought that the media did fairly well initially, in terms of equal and balance coverage of political parties, electoral education on the voting process as well as in the promotion of peace.
     Mr Yankah said it was important that journalists played their role as professionals and not allow themselves to be manipulated by politicians who sometimes pursued unclear agenda, using the media as their vehicle.
     He called for professionalism on the part of both journalists and their publishers, less partisanship and ethnicity, more Pan-Africanism and high moral standards to move journalism in the country to another level.
     Mr Yankah said some nations which had suffered civil strife and wars went through those ordeals as a result of certain careless actions and pronouncements by some people which fuelled tensions and sparked the wars.
     He added that in Ghana it took the expert intervention of certain personalities including the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan to calm the waters after the first round on December seven.
      He called for a review of the teaching contents of journalism in the various institutions, using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a modern wheel to promote speed, accuracy, objectivity and fairness among others in ensuring quality journalistic standards.
      Mr Eric Osiakwan, a representative from ICTs PenPlusBytes, reiterated the need for comprehensive training of all who control media contents, saying the quality outcome of a newspaper publication did not only depend on reporters alone, but also the editorial board and therefore professionalism was key in making fair judgments.
      He said his organization would continue to collaborate with the AUCC to provide ICT and other services to equip students with current technological skills to promote quality standards of journalism.
      Ms. Alison Bethel, a Knight International Journalism Fellow, United States of America, stressed the need for Ghanaian journalists to be cautious of the kind of pictures they painted through their reportage, as these negative publications were often exaggerated and distorted to portray a gloomy picture.
     She said during the December general election, media publications were picked and presented negatively by the foreign media, presenting Ghana as in a state of confusion and very close to war.    
     Ms Bethel appealed to the media to adhere to their code of ethics and be reminded of the fact that any negative action on the part of any individual organization could endanger the entire nation, adding that the need to be circumspect in the presentation of delicate issues such as ethnicity, conflicts and disasters was important.
     Mr Absalom Mutere, Acting Dean of Journalism, AUCC, comparing the Ghana elections to that of Kenya, said the election coverage in both countries was similar except that the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation was accused of being biased in favour of the ruling government.
     He called for the review of the inverted pyramid structure of news reporting to a more robust form of news presentation, which would not only attract audience, but also make journalism an interesting venture.

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