GJA urges media to report responsibly on COVID-19

Accra The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has admonished the media to report responsibly on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and avoid creating any unjustified fear and panic among the populace.

With six cases of the virus recorded in Ghana, the GJA believes the media have a duty to provide citizens with verified, accurate and factual reporting, while avoiding sensationalism that could lead to general panic and fear.

This was contained in a statement signed and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra by Mrs Linda Asante-Agyei, the GJA Vice President.

The statement urged the media to bear in mind that the public relied on them for information to decide on the precautionary measures to take in times like these.

“We cannot, and dare not, fail them.

“We advise journalists to use reliable scientific sources in their reportage and avoid speculations, while calling on public authorities and medical institutions to provide timely and accurate information to journalists when they call on them,” the statement said.

The GJA appealed to the media to avoid fear-induced vocabulary that could create a state of alarm and which does not correspond to reality.

Above all, they urged journalists to uphold the privacy of affected people to avoid stigmatisation of close relatives.

As the World Health Organisation described COVID-19 as pandemic, the GJA urged journalists to adhere strictly to the Code of Ethics of the Association, which provides the best antidote for misinformation, fake news and conspiracy theories that are awash on social media.

“The GJA reiterates that journalists’ responsibility towards the public must take precedence over any other consideration. The media must increase public awareness of the situation through reporting that educates, warns and informs properly on the virus. By so doing, they can be part of the solution.

“The GJA further urges journalists to take precautionary measures to stay safe as they work to provide the general public with news and information as required of them,” the statement advised.

To the public, the GJA encouraged them to continue to follow the basic wellness practices, which include washing of hands with soap under running water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching of eyes, nose and mouth, avoiding close contact with sick people, and covering of nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.

In order to ensure success in the precautionary measures, the statement called on the appropriate authorities to ensure that there is availability of water for hand-washing and litter bins placed at vantage points for easy disposal of tissues used to cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.

This, the statement said, was necessary because the lack of these things could seriously impair the fight against COVID-19.

The GJA commended the government for the stringent health screening measures put in place at the various ports of entry, while applauding it for committing $100 million to contain the pandemic.

“With the co-operation of all, we shall overcome the pandemic,” the statement added.

Source: Ghana News Agency