THE Executve Director of Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Prof. Kwame Karikari, has cautioned the media, especially radio stations to use the freedom they enjoy under the current democractic dispensation responsibly, so as not to give cause for its curtailment in the near future.
He noted that although the criminal libel law was repealed, the behaviour of some media establisments had given room for the drafting of a defamation bill to ensure that the media would exercise their freedoms well without tarnishing the reputation of people.
Prof. Karikari gave the caution at a two-day meeting in Sunyani for radio station managers from the Northern sector of the country.
The best Rural Radio Station 2008 prize was also presented at the meeting to Radio Progress, a Wa-based private radio station.
The meeting formed part of a series of programmes under the Ghana Media Standards Improvement Project (GMSIP) aimed at strenghtening the capacity of the Ghanaian media in order to sustain democracy and freedom of expression. It was a collaboration of MFWA and the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and funded by the Royal Danish Embassy in Accra.
The project which was launched in June, this year is a two-year pilot project that would involve principally four selected newspapers and eight rural radio stations.
Prof. Karikari noted that it was the media that had been the vanguard of democracy and therefore the media must continue to promote and depeen the gains made so far rather than stifle them.
He observed that the media had chalked up some significant successes under the current democractic dispensation and, therefore, caution must not be thrown to the wind that all was well for some to abuse the freedom being enjoyed by the media.
Prof. Karikari gave a brief history of broadcasting in the country and added that the multiplicity of radio stations in recent times, as a result of technological advancement, must also be used for the promotion of social cohesion, peace, economic development and also for the preservation of the culture of the people.
The Executive Director of MFWA said some of the challenges the project sought to address were what he termed “professional question of the media”, “Management Issues and Financing”, “Human Resource Development” and “How to Deal with Public Complaints”.
He said currently there were about 168 radio stations nationwide and the Brong Ahafo Region held the largest number of private radio stations.
Prof. Karikari therefore urged rural district radio stations to cover their areas, be fair, objective and balanced so as to bring harmony and peace to chieftaincy disputes.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo, expressed concern about the way media practice in Ghana today had ended up being sensational, with most news stories tarnishing the image of reputable people in society.
He, therefore, suggested that the findings of the GMSIP survey, as well as recommendations, should be channelled to the National Media Commission for redress and called on the GJA to be up and doing so as to bring to book the fake journalists we had in the country.
The Co-ordinator of GMSIP and former President of GJA, Ms. Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, stressed the important role of the media in the promotion of democracy and added that the professional standards of the media, especially radio stations should be raised in order for them to remain relevant in the Ghanaian society.
Mr William Orleans Oduro, the President of the Brong Ahafo Regional branch of the Ghana Bar Association, who chaired the function, commended the media for its role of promoting democracy and free expression, but cautioned media practitioners to be circumspect when discharging their duties.
Other resource persons were Dr Margaret Amoakohene of School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Mr Berifi Apenteng, Chairman for Coalition of Broadcasting Law and former Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group Limited and Mr Bright Blewu, the General Secretary of GJA.