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01.02.2004 General News

Investigate character of applicants - Media Training Institutes urged

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Accra, Feb 1, GNA - Mr Atukwei Okai, Secretary General of the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA), has called on media training institutions to thoroughly investigate the character of Trainee Journalists before offering them admission.

He described Journalism as a noble profession and said the power of the media over the citizenry required that practitioners exhibited excellence in character in addition to high academic and professional competence.

Mr Okai made the remarks as the Chairman for the second matriculation of the Africa Institute of Journalism and Communication under the theme "Setting the Standards in Excellence" in Accra, on Saturday.

He recalled the role of Journalists in the fight for Ghana's independence, democratic rule, press freedom and the exposure of the Watergate Scandal in the US and stressed the importance of good personal character in the development of the profession.

Mr Okai pointed out that a lot of damage could be caused by irresponsible journalism, adding, "A Journalist who is not correct in character is like a potential grenade in society. He could explode at any time".

The PAWA Secretary General advised media training institutions to do a thorough follow up on testimonials from the trainees' former schools and workplaces to establish their character.

The Reverend Professor S K Obeng, Principal of the Methodist University in Accra, said Ghanaians now looked up to the media and the Judiciary, for the protection of their rights.

He urged journalists to be responsible, transparent, timely and accurate in the performance of their work.

Rev. Prof. Adjepong said there was a general feeling among Ghanaians that media personnel, including some "seasoned and veteran practitioners" were abusing media freedom under the democratic dispensation.

He advised them to refrain from misdemeanours, use decent language and avoid sensationalism, biased reporting and partisanship. Private newspapers have turned their focus on alleged corruption, scandals and abuse of power by the Executive and other public officials, while rural development, health, education and the environment had received little coverage, he said.

"The observed excesses and lapses point to the fact that the Ghanaian media still have many miles to cover in their quest for professional excellence," Rev. Prof. Adjepong noted.

He called on the Ghana Journalists' Association (GJA) and the National Media Commission (NMC) to regulate the activities of Journalists apart from dealing with infraction of media ethics.

Rev. Prof. Adjepong urged the GJA and NMC to liase with media training institutions to organise "life-long" training programmes for journalists to enable them to be abreast with global best practices.

Mr Andrews Awuni, Deputy Information Minister, expressed the Ministry's appreciation to AIJC's contribution to the development of communication in Ghana and Africa and urged the students to be patriotic and exhibit a high sense of professionalism towards national development.

Mr Kojo Yankah, President of the Institute, said the final year students would soon start a course in reporting online.

He said the Institute had been admitted as a partner of the Washington based International Centre for Journalists, which he said, qualified AIJC to benefit from Fellows who would be periodically sent to train journalists on the continent.

Mr Yankah said the Institute collaborated with the United States Embassy to organise a course in HIV/AIDS reporting, adding that, AIJC was discussing with local and international organisations to establish partnership.

Mr Ato Amoaning-Annan, Acting Director of the Institute, administered the Matriculation Oath to 84 students, made up of 52 females and 32 males to pursue courses in Journalism, Advertising, Public Relations and Marketing.

Solidarity messages were read from the Ghana Journalists Association, Ghana Institute of Journalism, Institute of Public Relations, Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Advertisers Association and the Private Newspaper Publishers and Proprietors Association.

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