Don’t sacrifice integrity for headlines – Akufo-Addo to Journalists

President Nana Addo
President Nana Addo

According to President Akufo-Addo, media owners in particular must invest continuously in building the capacity of their staff.

“The media has immeasurable power to build up the confidence and values of our society and its institutions, and, therefore, ought to be assisted in being on top of its game at all times,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo made this known on when he spoke at the 12th congregation ceremony of the Ghana Institute of Journalism.

Stressing the importance of the media to the political, social and economic architecture of the country, the President noted that, like many other good things, the work of the media has its own associated risks and inherent challenges, especially in this age of social media.

With the first challenge being the risk of deliberate misinformation campaigns by some elements in the democratic space, President Akufo-Addo indicated that this is a major threat to the integrity of the news world.

“It is not something to be left only to regulators to deal with. It is something that the whole world of media practitioners, including you members of the graduating class, must resolutely confront, and assist the society to identify and eliminate,” he said.

The need for training, critical engagement by society with the media, self-regulation, and insistence on media ethics and journalistic standards by media houses, practitioners and their organizations, he added, is the way of addressing the current shortcomings and ills of the media landscape.

The second risk, President Akufo-Addo, indicated is that of inadvertent misinformation, that is sometimes published by mainstream media.

“This happens when there is a little twist of facts often to get the best headline or a publication of the unverified claim in the haste to be first in breaking the news,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo continued, “The worrying trend is that, in many cases, even after the public has been misinformed, and the true facts are later made known, mainstream media often chicken out of an honest open acknowledgement that ‘we were wrong’. The choice is often to sweep it under the carpet, and move on to the next big story.”

The President encouraged media owners, in particular, to invest continuously in building the capacity of their staff, as the media has immeasurable power to build up the confidence and values of society and its institutions.

He reiterated Government’s commitment towards empowering the citizen, media and civil society, and assured that the Right to Information Bill, which is in Parliament, will be passed.

President Akufo-Addo assured GIJ of Government’s commitment towards the development of the infrastructural capacity of the institution, a move, he said, would help in providing space for the increased student population who, in the next couple of years, will be seeking admission to this institution, as a result of the Free Senior High School policy.

“An initial, modest amount of GH¢5 million has been allocated to GIJ in the 2018 budget, and the least I can do is to make sure that GETFund releases this money to you as soon as possible to help complete the first of many lecture hall complexes and offices here,” he said.

To members of the graduating class, President Akufo-Addo urged them to “be the generation of Ghanaian media practitioners that refuses to be either victim or pawn and accepts to travel down the path of genuine popular enlightenment, which represents the strongest guarantee of our national independence and sovereignty. Freedom of expression, encompassing media freedom, is a critical element of that journey, which you must help guard jealously at all times.”

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