It is a widely known fact that the media is very powerful and influential in the education of citizens on policies and initiatives made by governments and stakeholders. This power wielded by the media is, by law, accompanied by an unlimited freedom to operate, but over the years, the narrative has taken a nose dive.
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) held its 27th Awards Ceremony to award deserving Journalists who, devoid of attacks, worked effortlessly to keep the country informed. The event was held under the theme “Leveraging Media Freedom To Sustain the Democratic and Security Architecture: The Litmus Test of Election 2024”.
In an opening address, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association, Albert Kwabena Dwumfour, stated that over a period of five years, from 2019 to 2023, the GJA has recorded over 45 attacks on its members, averaging nine attacks each year.
He mentioned that October 2023 alone has recorded 12 attacks, with two more to end the year. He called on the government to administer swift punishment to people who attack media men and also ensure that Journalists are accorded their freedom to operate as enshrined in the constitution of Ghana.
In addition, the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, acknowledged in his address the increasing attacks on Journalists in Ghana, citing the recent interruption of UTV’s live programme. He condemned such attacks and promised solid support for Journalists to have the freedom to operate.
Mr. Oppong Nkrumah further admonished the media to, as part of its core mandate, refrain from misinformation and disinformation. He mentioned that as the country is heading towards the election in December 2024, it is imperative that the media uphold the truth in their reports in order not to incite people falsely.
The United States of America’s Ambassador to Ghana, Her Excellency Virginia Palmer, in her brief remarks also reiterated the negative impact attacks on Journalists have on the practice of democracy.
She acknowledged the strides that the government is making in ensuring that perpetrators of such attacks are brought to justice and also called for a better structure to curb them. She bemoaned the lack of reports some minority groups in the country receive and urged the media to take a look into that as well.