Journalism in Ghana is facing a serious crisis. The mainstream media is increasingly vested in the hands of a selected few and refuses to question authority. It is the responsibility of the media to hold public institutions accountable for all their actions and inactions. There should always be room for the argumentative Ghanaian, and not the intolerant Ghanaian. The media is supposed to be the mediator between the Ghanaian public and our leaders but not the mouthpiece of the latter.
The true test of a robust democracy is the independence of its media. Over the past three years some media houses have become the mouthpiece of the party in power and the government. Coupled with the sacred fact that corporate owners of some media houses share close links with the government, the Ghanaian media has tragically lost its voice.
Serious issues like corruption, nepotism, human right abuses, vigilantism, killing and maiming of journalists, kidnapping of children have received scant mention in media coverage. Still, there hasn’t been a bigger debate about why the media has failed to effectively perform the critical task it is supposed to do. When it comes to press freedom, Ghana under the current administration fares worse than even countries like Afghanistan and United Arab Emirate. In fact, given the current state of how the mainstream media works it is difficult to expose tweaked data and opacity in government functioning. A new note of muscular nationalism has crept into media discourse. Also conspicuous is the curbing of dissent and the rise of surveillance state – developments that bode ill for the independence of the Ghanaian media
I want us to take a critical look at the issues raised because hypocrisy and dictatorship of the press stands in the way of our democracy. Ethical journalism founded on independence, objectivity, fairness, facts and consistency are principles that have long been lost in our media fraternity. Most of our Media houses report what the administration wants to hear not what the public deserves to hear.
News consumers expect news outlets to be objective and balanced in their reports of events and opinions. However, there is a growing body of evidence of bias in the media caused by underlying political, personal interest and other bogus viewpoints. We’ve seen more of measurable bias and favouritism since this administration took over.
Before I proceed, let me ask the writer and others who are apostles of his agenda – if they are comfortable with happenings in the media landscape under this administration vis-à-vis what we saw under John Mahama. I asked this question, mindful of the alarming excitement the media fraternity had over the election of the Nana Akufo-Addo as the President of Ghana, and whether he is receiving same bashing they unleashed on his predecessor. Hypocrisy is a chronic disease and dangerous moral deviation in the life of individuals, communities and nations. I am yet to read an article commending Mr John Mahama and his government for the way they handled the media their four years. How he accommodated all views and opened up to all including his ardent critics. The writer himself leveled all kinds of allegations against him but still enjoyed safe environment to pursue his agenda. Mr Mahama did not exert pressure on his employers to sack him or desert him. Under the watch of the man some of them projected in the media prior to the 2016 election and made sure he was elected,
– Hussein-Suale, an associate of ace investigative journalist Great Anas Amereyaw Anas was cruelly murdered in cold blood.
– A senior member of the ruling party and financier of the party, Ken Agyepong, threatened Hussein-Suale with death
-The writer himself was threatened, harassed and forced into exile for exposing De Eye’s secret operations.
-Edward Adeti, a journalist with Star FM was tormented, harassed and threatened with death for exposing the corrupt deals of Hon. Rockson Bukari, a Minister of State at the Presidency
-A multimedia journalists was attacked at the Headquarters of the ruling party by Hajia a known npp supporter who operates at the party’s headquarters.
-Journalists who went to cover the Ayawaso West Wuogon by- election received their fair share of the new phenomenon.
– Government has shut down radio stations linked to the NDC and some journalists have lost their jobs for openly criticising the government.
One of the reason why we don’t see much criticism in the media is that the government, in person of President, dominates the media’s agenda, intimidating owners of media houses and journalists. Thus the media is bound to only react to the news agenda offered by the government, rather than investigate its action independently. These are the critical issues the public wants the writer and those who exerted intense pressure on the previous administration to hammer on.
Press freedom is one of the most significant achievements of the Mahama administration.
Source: Ohenenana Obonti Krow