Training and self-regulation ensures high media standards – President

Takoradi (W/R), President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Monday, stressed the need for continuous training, self-regulation and an insistence on acceptable media ethics and journalistic standards by media houses, practitioners and their organizations.

This, he said, was the surest way to enhance high standards and professionalism, and address current shortcomings in the media landscape.

President Akufo-Addo was speaking at the 2019 Bar Conference of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), in Takoradi, in the Western Region.

The President was not happy that deliberate misinformation campaigns had now gained added currency, with the proliferation of media channels, including social media.

He noted that a major threat to the integrity of the news world was the publication of unverified claims, in the haste to be first to break so-called news.

In such cases, even after the public has been misinformed, and the true facts are later made known, media often chickens out of an honest open acknowledgement that we erred. The response is often to refuse to apologise or sweep it under the carpet, and move on to the next big story, the President said.

Politicians are not the only persons who make mistakes. Media practitioners, like all human beings, can also make mistakes, and, when they do, they should have the humility to acknowledge their error, and not have their misdeeds atoned under the guise of ‘media freedom’. Irresponsible media practice is an abuse of freedom of expression, not its manifestation.

The media, the President added, has immeasurable power to build up the confidence and values of Ghanaian society and its institutions.

I call on Ghanaian media practitioners to take a second look at the power they wield, and the responsibility they owe society, with a view to ensuring that, they do not sacrifice integrity and the future of our society for today’s headline or breaking news, he said.

President Akufo-Addo was emphatic that no effort was being made to suppress freedom of expression in Ghana, as the continuing vitality of the Ghanaian media and the intense diversity of the public discourse remained some of the most internationally admired traits of Ghanaian democracy.

Ghanaians are, today, as they have been doing for much of the 4th Republic, able to give boldly and freely their feedback on policies and programmes of government; civil society organisations are able to interrogate fearlessly government actions and positions, compare them to global best practices, and offer views and critiques aimed at complementing the efforts of government; and the political opposition is able to raise dissent openly, and canvass without intimidation for alternative viewpoints, he pointed out.

The President stated that, the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law in 2001, when he was Attorney General, represents one of the high points of his public career.

In my time as President, the Right to Information Act, whose passage had, hitherto, become a taboo, was finally enacted by Parliament. My attachment to the vital nature of freedom of expression in promoting national progress and security has not changed since I became President, he added.

Source: Ghana News Agency