Misusing The Pen, The Word

‘There is a risk of deliberate misinformation campaign in the democratic space and the risk of inadvertent misinformation by media practitioners often in their desire to be first in breaking the news and thus, get punchy, juicy headlines’ so said President Akufo-Addo during the recent World Press Freedom Day Awards dinner event in Accra.

Succinct and factual is how we wish to describe the foregone. We doubt there is anybody better placed to discuss the state of the media in the country today than a man who has been associated with journalism in various forms. He was a publisher of a   newspaper hence, his knowledge of the challenges of the occupation and profession.

As someone whose contribution freed the space for media practice to flourish and as the most vilified after the achievement of the said freedom, he has first-hand information of the story so far.

At the time that he stood up against the criminal libel law and moving to have it expunged from the statute books, he etched his name in the annals of the history of journalism in this country.

Even as we relish the newfound freedom of expression and the opening of the airwaves, there have been disturbing abuses which sometimes threaten the democracy journalism ironically seeks to protect.

The tendency to spew untruths – especially about public office holders, only to retract same subsequently when the realities become evident – is regrettably becoming the feature of some media establishments.

The obsession to undertake our political missions sometimes blurs our vision and thoughts to the extent of occasioning the kind of unacceptable level of journalism which is discernible these days in our political space.

Let us as media practitioners remember that we constitute the fourth estate of the realm and should therefore, avoid those tendencies which have the potential of tarnishing our democratic credentials and reducing us to media mercenaries for the use of bad politicians.

It was not for nothing that Ghana was chosen by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Social Organisation to host the prestigious programme. In spite of the drawbacks inherent in media practice in the country today, its contribution in keeping governments in check cannot be overemphasized.

The many instances of corruption and abuse of office by some government appointees which only came to light through the curiosity and work of the media, call for celebration.

We have come a long way from the days of the culture of silence when it was foolhardy to attempt exposing improprieties of junta officials.

It can only be imagined how democracy would have fared with the freedom of expression restricted and controlled by the state as in authoritarian regimes.

While there have been just a few instances of media persons suffering the ultimate sacrifice of death in the country, other challenges, nonetheless, are palpable: these must be addressed to enable the fourth estate of the realm to live up to expectation.