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The Acting Director of Public Affairs, Kate Addo, has observed that Journalists in the Parliamentary Press Corps (PPC) are not the mouth piece of Parliament.
Subsequently, they should not behave as such and that they should hit Parliament when they have their stories well investigated.
She pointed out that if the public wants responses from Parliament, the Public Affairs will be the first point of call. She stated this last week at a day’s training programme for members of the PPC sponsored by Parliament.
Madam Addo was however quick to point out that members of the PPC should broaden their scope of knowledge in all aspects of Parliamentary reporting, stressing that knowledge was key in their endeavours and also comport themselves very well.
On his part, the Minority Leader, Hon Iddrisu Haruna, who also double as the MP for Tamale South added his voice to the call by the Acting director on the need for members to acquire knowledge on all fronts since knowledge was very important in their work as Parliamentary reporters.
He noted that in Parliamentary reporting, openness, accountability and transparency are required. Therefore it is good that the Parliamentary correspondent should be placed in his proper place and context.
Hon. Iddrisu charged members not only to familiarize with Parliamentary reporting, but also be confident with the laws in the country especially the Constitution since all other laws depend on it.
He pledged his support for the PPC to be financially sound so as to enable it become autonomous. He also advocated for, at least one journalist to follow leadership whenever they leave the shores of the country.
In the primary session, resource persons like Dr. Kweku Rockson took participants through the topic “Principles of good reportage, while Mr. Ahuma Dzietor, Head of Table Office and Dr. Daniel Nkrumah, Former Parliamentary Reporter for the Daily Graphic” took participants through “Processes and Proceedings of Parliament” and Dilemma of the Parliamentary Reporter” respectively.
The first Deputy Speaker, Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu, charged members of the PPC to endeavour to work towards national unity.
He pointed out that Parliament is committed to help the PPC grow because without it the public will not hear of activities in Parliament.
While advising them to take their lessons seriously, the First Deputy Speaker asked the journalists to build themselves into interest groups to help Parliament grow.
The Dean of Parliamentary Press Corps, Nana Agyemang Birikorang, expressed happiness at the return of this training session for his group, indicating that it had to be taken off due to financial constraints.
He pointed out that Parliamentary reporting was a specialized area in journalism, where journalists who wish to report on Parliamentary activities in Parliament must take time to study the Standing Orders, the Constitution and other related materials.
He commanded a book “A guide to the Parliament of Ghana” published in 2004 to members. This book, he noted was very useful since it was published by a former clerk to Parliament. Mr. Techie, two deputy clerks, Mr. Agama and Mr. Cyril Nsiah and other senior officers of Parliament.
While expressing unhappiness about the lack of knowledge in Parliamentary proceedings by a section of the corps, Nana Birikorang charged them to use the book religiously for their own benefit.
He indicated that the training was going to impact positively on members taking into consideration the very important lessons chosen and the experience resource person selected for the members.
The Dean pleaded with the Public Affairs Department to work on visiting and exchange programmes between the PPC and their colleagues in other countries considered as leaders in Parliamentary Democracy so that they can exchange ideas for them all.
Nan Birikorang observed that if the Parliamentary reporter is given such training without the adequate physical tools, his work will fall short.
Quoting from Chapter 10 of the Guide Book, he pointed out, “Communication equipment such as telephones, computers, fax machines and recorders are provided by Parliament to assist correspondence in its discharge of their duties.
“Furthermore, it states that the accredited journalists and photographers have been allocated a Press Conference Room and two other offices for their use”.
He pointed out that 13 years ago, when the book was published, he was here as a reporter, but he is yet to see those things the book talked about.
The Dean subsequently appealed to the Public Affairs Department to endeavour to make sure that working conditions of the Corps are properly addressed.
Source: S.O. ANKAMAH