‘Ghanaian media performs poorly in suicide news reportage’

Accra, A research conducted by the Institute of Africa Media Monitoring Intelligence and Advocacy revealed that the Ghanaian media failed 90 per cent in complying with global ethical standards in suicide news reporting.

The Ethics and Standards in suicide reporting requires that, news items should not contain pictures of the victim, exact location or description of the incident, premature affirmation among others, but the research revealed that, those elements were found in suicide news reports published by the various print media.

Dr Messan Mawugbe, Executive Director of the Institute, made this known at a programme dubbed Media Ethics and Standards: Suicide News Reporting, Denting Ghana’s Image.

He said the research revealed that the Ghanaian media was more sensational in alleged suicide news reporting which contravened the global standard, that media should avoid sensationalism in suicide news reporting.

The research revealed that the media was not sensitive to family of the suicide victims which also contradicted the global ethical standards.

Dr Mawugbe said the research showed that the media gave prominence to alleged suicide news stories by publishing about 50 per cent of them on front pages, while the global standard abhored the media prominence for alleged suicide news stories.

The research revealed that the media paid less attention to expert referencing in their reports, provided less public education on suicide in their reports, and more pictures of victims and suicide symbols were used by the Media in their news publications, which were contrary to the standards.

Dr Mawugbe noted that the effects of the negligence of the media in suicide news reporting had affected the country’s image in the international scene, saying Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, said in a report published by the Daily Post newspaper that, foreign students shun Ghana Universities over suicide reports.

He said the research also revealed that less precedence were placed on cultural values of the victims and that, news gatekeepers placed less value on ethical standards in suicide news reporting and the Ghanaian media failed in upholding the ethical values in suicide news reporting.

He said the research recommended that news gatekeepers should adopt the global standards in suicide news reporting and called for a consistent media monitoring to track and analyse how the various media outlets reported on alleged suicide incidents in the country.

Dr Mawugbe called for effective training of media practitioners in suicide news reporting in collaboration with National Media Commission, Ghana Journalists Association, Ghana Independent Broadcasting Association, and other relevant agencies.

Mr Kwesi Gyan Apenteng, Chairman of the National Media Commission admonished media practitioners to be professional in their reportage, adhere to the code of ethics, and place emphasis on quality than quantity of stories.

Mr Affail Money, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association, noted that the media coverage of suicide was ethically bankrupt and professionally unacceptable and called on stakeholders in the sector to prioritise ethical discipline to advance the profession.

Source: Ghana News Agency