Panelists at a Media-Security Dialogue on Violence have advised media organisations, especially traditional media (radio and TV) to play their gate keeping role effectively to ensure a peaceful general election on Monday,.
According to them, even though the advent of social media is contributing to the spread of news – either fake or not – data from the National Media Commission and the National Communication Authority have revealed that many people still depend on traditional media to authenticate news rumors.
“Legacy media which consist of TV and radio are going to play a critical role in the coming election. People will depend on them for fact checking and therefore they need to step up their game and ensure that they provide the fact, nothing but the fact,” Media Consultant, Eyram Bashan said at the dialogue.
She added that, “Journalism is not cheap” as many people in Ghana are made to understand but rather is equally important like other professions in the economy. According to her, many Ghanaians are made to believe that because of the introduction of citizen journalism and blogging, the profession is cheap and that every educated person who can read and write can engage in journalism.
“But the fact is that journalism goes beyond citizen journalism and blogging because there are particular skills and credibility that real journalists possess that bloggers and others do not,” she stated.
According to renowned television executive and actor, John Osei Tutu Agyeman, also known as JOT Agyeman, “the fact is what will make the difference. Media organisations should not be in any rush to break whatever news. The information must be checked and checked again because it can make or break the nation’s peace.”
Also speaking at the event, organized by Kingdom Concept Consult, a senior police officer at the Public Affairs Department of the Ghana Police Hospital, DSP Yaw Nketia-Yeboah said, media personnels need to stay alive before they can report and for that matter they must go to the polls well-dressed, being able to identify them from others and always wear a media jacket or cards for easily identification. According to him, proper branding would help the media personnel to be easily identified in case of chaos.
He called on reporters to cross-check information before going live. “Guide and guard against falsehood and always check facts from the election security taskforce mandated by the Inspector General of Police to give out information to the public.”
A Programme Manager for the Media at the Media Foundation for West Africa, Abigail Larbi Odei also charged journalists not to allow themselves to be used as tools to ferment violence and advocated for peace journalism before, during and post-election. Speaking on the theme, ‘Election Violence, the Role of the Media and Security Agencies,’ she said it beholds on journalists to consider first the peace the country is enjoying before putting up a skewed report likely to jeopardize it.