A DEPUTY Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr. David Adeenze Kanga has cautioned journalists to be extremely careful in their reportage on opinion polls about political parties because that could spell doom for the country as it could deceive the electorate.
He observed that in a situation where journalists put a spin to promote a particular presidential candidate or political party, which did not reflect the actual facts on the ground, could generate heat when electoral results did not favour that candidate or party.
The EC official pointed out that most often than not, smaller parties were not considered in this aspect, stressing that minor parties could also pull a surprise.
He added that the most crucial thing in election was the result and that if a smaller party did not accept the result of an election, that party could go to bush and cause confusion to the whole nation.
Mr. Kanga warned journalists to desist from this act at a two-day seminar organized for journalists from the western and central regions on political reporting in this year's election, scheduled for December.
The programme, which was organized by National Media Commission, (NMC) and the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in collaboration with the EC and was sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, had a theme: "Fair and objective reportage for the 2004 electioneering process."
He told the participants that the future of the country rested on journalists' ability to sustain democracy through proper monitoring of elections by exhibiting professionalism in executing their duty, adding elections could be rigged through the media.
He said, in such a situation, the media would be been seen gearing its strength towards a particular candidate.
Mr. Yaw Boadu- Ayeboafoh, Editor of the Daily Graphic advised radio stations to keep copies of the recording tapes so that they could produce it in case of eventualities.
He appealed to them to keep it for at least, three months and urged them to embrace good broadcasting management.
Touching on the print media, the Daily Graphic editor maintained that some journalists made mountains out of mole hills, creating unnecessary tension in the country.
He further explained that journalists were trained to tell the stories of those who had the story but could not tell it properly to the general public.
He, therefore, implored journalists to do away with those negative practices that were eroding the confidence people had in them.
Earlier, Dr Bonnah Koomson, a senior lecturer at the School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, appealed to journalists to be neutral, objective, as well as desist from any bad conduct that might bring the image of the profession into disrepute.
Dr. Koomson noted that the conduct of some journalists had convinced a section of the general public to describe the standard of journalism practice in the country as "infantile."
The senior lecturer called on journalists to galvanize themselves and stand the test of time so as to win public confidence by adhering to professionalism.
He told journalists to focus on issues, personalities and manifestos of various political parties, as well as ask politicians tough questions in connection with their campaign promises.
Mr. Alex Bannerman, deputy executive secretary in charge of operations at the NMC, reminded journalists that the electorate would judge degree of fairness and balance of their reportage.
He advised them not to align themselves to any political party.
The deputy general secretary of the GJA, Mr. Affail Monney, asked journalists to report nothing but the truth and hoped the participants would explore the experience gained during the programme, to enhance professionalism.
The programmes coordinator of the Friedrich Ebert Founadtion, Mr. Samuel Opoku Agyakwa, said the role of the media in the electoral process was very crucial and that journalists must be fair and accurate to enable the electorate make an informed choice.