I feel journalism is under threat more than it has ever been in Ghana. Apart from the nefarious activities of some journalists, the Ghanaian media is facing naked censorship and being forced to comply with a blackout of news that criticised the Akufo-Addo government or publish bad news about the government including scandals and bad records. The climate of extreme fear and self censorship, and the suppression of opposition political voices, even worse than during the era of military dictatorship. If one reporter or media house reported a story that threw the government into disrepute, the business interest of the media owner would be targeted or advertising funding held. In some cases, the jubilee house or senior government appointees exert pressure on owners of media houses to sack journalists who published bad articles about the administration.
Journalism is in trouble in Ghana. The consequences could be dire. The media is no longer able to adequately hold the President or his government to scrutiny. An in an era of fake news and low trust in the media, an enfeebled class of journalists could eventually lead to a weakening of the very democracy that defines modern Ghana.
The signs have been clear for a while now. For much of Akufo-Addo’s first term in office, his government seemed to get a free pass from the country’s media.
Ghana dropped two places in the latest transparency international’s corruption perception index. Multimedia’s Myjoyonline, reported it and captioned their story “GHANA DROPPED TWO PLACES ON 2019 CORRUPTION PERCEPTION INDEX”, government immediately instructed the editor to change the story’s headline to ” GHANA MAINTAINS SCORE ON 2019 CORRUPTION PERCEPTION INDEX”. Isn’t this disturbing? The same media house was instructed by the administration and the ruling party’s bigwigs never to discuss the anti- new voters’ register demonstration on its platforms and being used to incite the public against the organisers of the demonstration and all who speak against the compilation of the new register. All the influential media platforms including the state television and radio function largely as government mouthpiece. What multimedia did confirms the fact that these media houses and their journalists have become accustomed to not challenging the Akufo-Addo government.
Good analysis on national issues by our experts cannot be aired by these media houses because of this censorship phenomenon and harassment by government and its agents. Pressure is exerted both through direct edicts to editors and producers, to less direct but more costly intervention such as pulling stations from transmission, targeting advertising revenue of dissenting media or forcing media owners to sack journalists.
So in all these, where is the media commission and the Ghana Journalists Association? What about the other media monitoring organizations who rated performance of our media organizations few years ago? We are in an election year and the earlier we start condemning these acts, the better it will be for our teething democracy.
Source: Ohenenana Obonti Krow