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27.10.2008 General News

Veep Urges Journalists To Consider National Unity First

Veep Urges Journalists To Consider National Unity  First

Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama with an award winner

Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama last Saturday urged the media to consider national stability and unity first in the course of their work.

Speaking at the 13th Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Awards/Dinner night held in Accra, he said although the media has 'rough edges', they have made enormous contributions to democratic consideration.

'Many of our people, literate and illiterate, urban and rural, have been brought into the democratic process as the media ingenuously enables participation in several languages through all manner of programmes,' Alhaji Mahama said.

The event that was on the theme, 'Using the Media to Promote National Unity and Stability in an Election Year,' was sponsored by corporate Ghana, including MTN and Unilever.

The vice president said although the country is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the democratic process through the media, 'we could be better off if we could be assured that the media's first and foremost consideration is a duty to national unity and stability'.

Alhaji Mahama added that the people also have a role to play to keep a good balance.

'We need to continue to recognise and reward excellence. We must support professionalism through training. We need to come to terms with the pervasive nature of knowledge dissemination in the modern age and facilitate access to quality information.'

Alhaji Mahama noted that the media have been fruitful and increased in number since 1992, when the 4th Republican Constitution was promulgated.

He said 'Harnessing modern technology, several of our weekly newspapers now come out daily, whilst we have rapidly moved beyond print, radio and television to streaming news on the internet.'

He noted that problems, however, remain with the delicate balance between responsibility and recklessness which he said is of great concern.

Alhaji Mahama said 'Yet in a fledgling democracy like ours, it may well be better to have a reckless media than a docile one, provided the excesses arise from natural exuberance rather than calculated malice.'

He noted that election years are 'especially fragile' saying what the media choose to highlight and hammer on is what influences the mood and determines the attitudes of the larger public.

Mr Ransford Tetteh, President of the GJA, said the theme for the event is in recognition of the crucial role that the media play in achieving credible and peaceful elections.

'The theme no doubt affords us the opportunity as media practitioners to reflect on our duty, responsibility and overall commitment to contributing to a free, fair and transparent election.

'This reflection is very necessary if the media is to help preserve the peace which we all very much cherish.'

Mr Tetteh said it is the hope of the GJA that the theme will also remind all and sundry, particularly the government, Electoral Commission, political parties, individual politicians and civil society of their responsibility towards ensuring that the elections are credible and peaceful.

He said there is a record of 208 entries and the Award Committee declared that 10 out of the 16 competitive awards deserved to be won. There was no entry for the Television Feature category.

Mr Tetteh said the Awards Committee's report noted that there was poor packaging and labelling on many of the entries leading to their disqualification.

He said the committee suggested to the GJA to properly inform media houses on what is expected of their staff in submitting entries for the annual awards.

Mr Tetteh said other recommendations were that the GJA should established clear guidelines on what constituted a publication in the light of its difficulties with internet and wire stories that have not been published in any conventional newspaper.

'The committee also says there is the need for mentoring and coaching in the various media houses and advised media houses to create an environment for continuous interaction between senior and junior journalists as a means of passing on skills and experience in the profession.'

Mr Tetteh gave the assurance that the national executive will hold clinics throughout the country before the next competition is launched to address some of the challenges.