The law of natural justice requires that an accused person is not guilty until otherwise proven in court of competent jurisdiction. This would mean the accused would be given the opportunity to present his/her side of the case as part of his/her defence.
This same principle applies to journalism. Journalism 101 would teach that before you publish it verify the source, cross-check the information and reach out to named persons for their side of the story.
I wonder which responsible media house would publish an accusatory statement without verification. On Sunday (11/29/20) Peace FM reported on its online page that "The vigilance of agents of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) stationed at the various offices undertaking the printing of electoral materials for this year's elections at the printing house, has exposed the printing of additional 1 million Presidential ballot booklets meant for the Ashanti Region. The opposition party claims this was being done on their blind side".
Again Joy News carried a news item (11/27/20) where an agent of the National Democratic Congress accused the EC of burning ballot papers meant for the upcoming elections.
These are accusatory statements which, before publication, should have been clarified from the EC or the EC's version should have been made part of the publication. This did not happen. It had to take the EC another time to come out with its own version of events. What if the EC did not notice this? These statements could lead to chaos in the country
What was the intention of both media houses to rush to publish these statements without verification? Did they weigh the cost of the damage the publication would be? How much would it have cost each of them to pick up their phones to place a call to the EC?
There would be no tension in the country but for the rush to publish unverified claims and wild accusations by media houses such as Peace FM and Joy News.
It has been observed that certain TV and Radio stations allow both NPP and NDC activists to respond to claims and counterclaims by each other in healthy and enviable debates. How come the EC is not given the same opportunity to respond to accusations directed at it? This is not being fair to the EC.
For the elections, nervously filled politicians are likely to make wild, unfounded and unsubstantiated accusations. It is left with the media houses to sift through the chaff and publish only news items that sustain the peace of the country.
Ghana is the only country I have. I have lived outside the country for some donkey years, yet I walk, sleep, talk, eat, drink and dress as a Ghanaian. I am enjoying the politics that is going on. I would not trade our differences for anything. That makes Ghana. Media houses like Peace FM and Joy News should not be used as vehicles for destruction.
PLEASE: A peaceful Ghana depends on you.
OPANIN KWABENA MENSAH
25 West Tremont Avenue
Bronx, NY 10453