Journalists in Ghana have been urged to see themselves as partners of politicians and together help in promoting the country's developmental agenda and effective governance.
As gatekeepers, they have been asked to refine the platform political messages of politicians, who are often carried away while on political platforms and thus make unwarranted statements.
Mr. Ransford Tetteh, President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), said this at the Annual General Meeting of the association at the International Press Centre in Accra yesterday.
Since this was his first annul general meeting after assuming office, Mr. Tetteh cautioned journalists to be very cautious in their reportage, particularly during the election period. He also appealed to politicians to avoid feeding journalists with unreliable messages, some of which could create chaos in the society.
Noting that the GJA had come a long way, the President said the association would continue to co-operate with Parliament, the Media Commission and all constitutional bodies, to help enhance the image of the profession.
He bemoaned the dues situation of members, and questioned how the association would raise funds to embark on the next phase of the centre's project if members fail to pay up their dues.
In his annual report, the General Secretary of the association, Bright Kwame Blewu said in view of the fact that this is an election year, the association has planned programmes aimed at reminding journalists of their crucial role in conducting a transparent, free and fair elections in December.
He noted that the association intends to strengthen its collaboration with the Electoral Commission (EC) in making the Ghana International Press Centre a media resource and results-relay centre. The association, he further stated, would revise its Guidelines on Election Coverage formulated in 1996 to take into account some of the challenges that the media had encountered in their work over the years.
Blewu touched on the burglary at the Centre on July 13 last year, where the gold chain symbolizing the authority of the President of the association was stolen from the safe together with an amount of GH¢205 belonging to the association.
He however expressed the association's gratitude to Unique Trust Financial Services for refunding the stolen amount in sympathy with the association.
The General Secretary also touched, among other things, on the various educational programmes conducted by the association, plans for corporate membership, and the decision of Africa Online to waive its connectivity fee, equivalent to over $900 per month.
On her part, the association's Treasurer, Mrs. Yaa Oforiwaa Asare-Peasah suggested the increase of the dues from the current GH¢2 to either GH¢5 or GH¢10 a month and the launching of the second phase of the Press Centre Project.
She said members should also consider the introduction of a welfare scheme or package for members' benefits especially during retirement.
She noted that though the association had recorded a steady growth over the years, its financial situation has not been rosy as it has been faced with the challenge of inadequate internally-generated income to meet overhead cost.
Mrs. Asara-Peasah said the total internally-generated income for 2006 was ¢303,428,199 while the expenditure ran into ¢329,990,208. That of last year, she explained, was ¢406,601,000, with an expenditure of ¢464,429,100.
Regional reports were also received from the association's regional chapters.
Earlier, a minute's silence was observed for three members of the association who passed away last year. They were Kwateiboi Owoo of Ghanaian Times, Tom Brentuo of Ghana News Agency and Samuel Best Enim, Ashanti Regional Chairman, who was shot dead by unknown assailants.
The association also presented awards to personalities and institutions for their services to it. They included Godwin Avenorgbor, the Western Regional Chapter of the association, and Africa Online Company.
Among the dignitaries at the function was Hon. Frank Agyekum, Deputy Minister of Information and National Orientation.
By James S.A. Kwashie