Kumasi,– Ms Stephanie S. Sullivan, the United States Ambassador to Ghana, has urged Ghanaians to embrace press freedom to build a solid democracy that can stand the test of time.

“Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are fundamental principles for every democracy and without even one of these, democracy cannot survive,” she said.

Ms Sullivan said this on Monday at the opening ceremony of the Media Capacity Enhancement Programme (MCEP) at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi.

The training is expected to enhance the capacities of about 250 selected journalists from media organisations across the country to play effective roles in national development.

It is an initiative of the Ministry of Information, being implemented in collaboration with the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG), National Media Commission (NMC), and Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA).

“Equipping the Media to Play an Effective Role in Our Nation Building” is the theme for the four-day training.

The US Ambassador said a safe, free, professional and responsible media supported democratic principles and informed public policy debates so that voters could make informed decisions.

“Your role as journalists is fundamental to public debates on key issues. With a stroke of the pen, you can highlight a public problem or injustice,” she said.

Journalists could show the people how public policies were working and had the responsibility to hold governments and public officials accountable to their promises, Ms Sullivan said.

“But that power comes with great responsibility. It is important to do your research, check and double check your sources and seek a different perspective.”

Professor Kwamena Kwansah-Aidoo, the Chair of the Working Committee implementing the programme, said it sought to address the capacity deficit challenges the media faced to position them to play their role effectively in the development agenda.

“What the MCEP seeks to do in terms of objectives, methodology and intended impact is unprecedented in our nation’s history,” he said.

The media was confronted with multi-faceted problems and key amongst them were capacity challenges, declining professionalism and increasing disregard for ethics, affecting the quality of media outlets.

That, Prof Kwansah-Aidoo said, had a detrimental effect on their ability to play the watchdog role and help generate transformative change through facilitating appropriate and credible information.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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