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18.05.2004 Regional News

Strive to project African values and identity - Nana Nketsiah urges

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Takoradi, May 18, GNA - Nana Kwabena Nketsiah VI, Omanhene of Essikado Traditional Area, on Monday urged media practitioners to strive to project African values and identity in the publication of political issues in order to safeguard the country's independence.

He made the call at the Western Regional celebration of this year's World Press Freedom Day in Takoradi, organised by the Regional Branch of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA). It was on the theme: "Radio - Prospects and Challenges in Nation Building".

Nana Nketsiah, who is a senior lecturer at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), spoke on the topic: "The Role of the Media in the Development of the Nation".

He said a country without a vision is lost and the Ghanaian media needs to re-examine and orientate itself on African culture and identity, instead of being a carbon paper of the West.

He said the media sometimes had been uncritically accepting views from its foreign partners and in so doing tended to sustain powers exploiting the country.

Nana Nketsiah said many of the country's FM Radio Stations were only profit motivated and did not represent the "Ghanaian character" in their programmes.

He asked members of the media to recognise their role in national development and use their power constructively to further development.

Speaking on "The Role and Expectations of the Media in Ensuring Peaceful General Elections", Mr Benn Kujar, Takoradi Area Manager of Gold Coast Securities Limited, said Ghanaian Journalists should take a cue from the carnage in some African countries as a result of reckless reportage in the pursuit of profit.

He said the media should uphold its responsibility in protecting its own freedom and not to be interested only in commercial gains, thereby falling prey to contending political powers particularly during election period.

Mr Kujar expressed concern at the alarming rate journalists were using the media for sensationalism, personal vendetta and publication of public opinion instead of development news.

He said there has been refinement of the Ghanaian media landscape and improvement of "The conscience of the press" since the 1992 elections and that the proliferation of FM Stations and tabloids had helped to widen information dissemination than ever before.

Mr Kujar urged the media to be selective and exercise discretion and self-restraint before, during and after this year's election.

Dr Aubynn said the Ghanaian society expects the media to help it make an informed choice during the elections by informing, educating and entertaining on relevant issues and in so doing, the credibility of the elections would be ensured.

He said the forthcoming elections would mark a crucial stage in the consolidation of Ghana's democracy and the media has a huge task to ensure that the democratisation process stayed on course. Dr Aubynn said the media could do this by accurately informing and educating the public on all issues before, during and after the elections and this role is even more crucial in view of the high level of illiteracy in the country which makes most electorates more reliant on the media for information to make their political choices. He urged the GJA to consider setting professional standards for reporting opinion polls and political party activities for its members. His topic was "Public Concerns on the Role of the Media and Suggestions to Allay Such Fears".

Awulae Annor Agyaye III, Omanhene of Western Nzema Traditional Area, who presided, advised journalists to publish the truth and to stop beating the "War drums".

He said the political party law prohibits chiefs from engaging in active political activities and suggested that chiefs who are given money by politicians to campaign for them should be arrested and prosecuted for breaking the law.

Politicians who give money to such chiefs should also be arrested and prosecuted for aiding and abetting.

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