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02.03.2009 General News

Media severely criticised over bad reportage

Media severely criticised over bad reportage


The media's coverage of the recent general election has been severely criticised.

The criticisms which were levelled at a round-table discussion on the elections at Koforidua last week, accused journalists, most of whom were said to be unqualified and media houses of being bias, partisan and influenced by politicians.

The event which was organised by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (COD-Ghana) on the theme "Towards a freer, fairer and a more credible elections 2012" was to examine all aspects of the 2008 elections with the aim of making recommendations that would do away with or reduce negative traits at the 2012 elections.

It brought together experts made up of seasoned media and legal practitioners, lecturers from the universities, top officials from various organisations such as COD-Ghana, CODEO, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the Ghana Bar Association(GBA), the National Media Commission and representatives of the European Union Election Observation Mission.

The group which pointed out Radio Gold and Oman FM for broadcasting news items that could have led to chaos called on the government to hasten the passage of a broadcasting law to regulate the activities of radio stations.

A lecturer of the School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, who set the ball rolling, stated that the media, before and during the elections did not perform well and that news items were based on rumours to incite the public.

She said apart from that, the reports which were partisan in nature featured prominently on the two main political parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) while the smaller parties had little coverage.

According to Dr Gadzekpo, such negative traits which nearly plunged the country into chaos must be avoided at the 2012 elections to sustain the country's fledgling democracy which had made Ghana the beacon of hope in Africa.

"Some of the media houses, especially the FM stations such as Oman FM and Radio Gold, due to some circumstances came up with news items that heightened tension and nearly plunged the country into chaos and these must be avoided in 2012", Dr Gadzekpo stated.

Dr Gadzekpo, however, said the media highlighted certain aspects of the elections that made the event successful and called on media houses, especially the private radio stations to recruit qualified and competent staff to be able to perform creditably.

She expressed the hope that the participants would come out with recommendations that would stand the test of time.

Mr Kofi Asante of the CDD said if was not media houses alone whose performance negatively affected the elections and that district chief executives and other public officials should also be blamed because they erected billboards for candidates of the ruling government.

He also wondered why there should be strongholds for certain political parties where others could not freely operate.

The acting Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Miss Anna Bossman, said a study conducted by her outfit in some constituencies during the elections brought to light abuse by the ruling government.

She was also not happy that ballot papers had to be collated or counted more than twice in some constituencies, which according to her, were recipes for chaos.

For his part, the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Dispatch, Mr Ben Ephson, called on owners of private media houses to engage qualified staff and suggested that the editors of such media outfits must be held responsible for any lapses.

The Executive Secretary of the NMC, Mr George Sarpong said although political parties cheated in the elections, they condemned others.

The General Secretary of the GJA, Mr Bright Blewu, who was of the view that the NMC should be well resourced to be able to do its work, said something must be done to prevent chaos during the 2012 elections.

The EU representative, Mr Nicholay Miadenov, said although the recent elections met international standard, there were some shortcomings and suggested a review of the voters' register and that district chief executives must not campaign for the candidates of the ruling government.

Other contributors were Mr John Larbi of the CDD; Mr Afriyie Badu of Cab Governance Consult; Mr Kofi Owusu of Joy FM; Mr Kwasi Ennin, a conflict resolution expert; Mr Justice V.C.R.A.C . Crabbe, a constitutional expert, Maulvi Wahab Adam, Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission in Ghana, and Professor K.A. Ninsin of the University of Ghana, Legon.

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