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31.07.2005 General News

President Kufuor's 'Meet The Press' in August

President Kufuor's 'Meet The Press' in August

Accra, July 31, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor's annual Meet The Press Series aimed at bringing the Presidency into the open while making transparency a hallmark of administration comes off in the second week of August.

The series, which began in 2001 has been a special occasion for the media as they see it as an opportunity to question the President on matters of national interest that has been bugging their minds for a long time and for which they think the Ministers of state officials have not handled adequately or issues on which they require the President's view.

Mr Dan Botwe, Minister of Information said this in Accra over the weekend when Executives of the Greater Ghana Journalists Association called on him at his office. It was to introduce the new Executives to the Minister and his team and discuss programmes and project affecting the media landscape in the Greater Accra Region. They include ethics, post Criminal Libel Law Regime and continuous training for journalists. Mr Botwe said preparations are on- going towards the event and the President was looking forward to it.

He explained that the event could not come on much earlier as the team behind it did not want a repetition of events and projects of the past four years to be outlined again.

"We therefore waited for at least six months into the new administration took office to bring the President to the people and the media. Besides, the President was involved in state travels that could not make the event come on much earlier."

Mr Botwe indicated that the weekly Meet the Press series would follow the week after the Presidential Meet The Press, adding that there would be a slight variation as compared to previous times. He took the opportunity to advice Journalists to be utterly circumspect in their activities in order to avoid the pain of court fines that some individuals seek against them for writing unpleasant things about them.

He was not happy that Journalists were receiving such huge fines, some of which had the potential to collapse them.

Mr Gideon Sackitey, Chairman of the Greater Accra Chapter of the Ghana Journalists Association welcomed the re-introduction of the Meet The Press Series, saying it would once again work at putting state officials on their toes.

"We are happy too that the President himself would be meeting the media soon to lay bare and clear certain issues which might be on the minds of society in the media once and for all."

He explained that the situation where Ministers came to read several pages of programmes of their Ministers should give way to a new trend where, "this could be summarised and more time given to the media to probe what the Ministries are doing to change the face of poverty and bring faster development to the large number of the poor in our society."

"It should even be possible that the media receive such speeches ahead of the series to be able to digest it and make relevant inquiries on behalf of the people."

Mr. Sackitey asked that Regional Ministers meet the Press in their host Regions rather than in Accra where the media are unable to unravel relevant issues concerning their stewardship.

He called for strict adherence to the GJA Code of Ethics, saying "if we stick to it we would hardly find ourselves in situations that some of our colleagues find themselves in today."

Mr Sackitey said it was the aim of the current executives to make continuous education and training of journalists a major item on their agenda.

"We will collaborate with all institutions to create an acceptable and professional touch in our work in the region," he added. Mr Ken Nunoo, Secretary of the Chapter said the reintroduction of the Meet The Press series should offer the media relations' outfits of the various ministries, departments and agencies a dynamic approach to doing their work.

He urged information to be more forthcoming from these institutions to make the work of journalists much easier.

Mr. Nunoo called for a uniformed and direct approach for government response to issues instead of the present situation where different ministers and officials say different things at different times. "This creates an uncertain situation and makes the role of the media rather difficult."

He said a seminar on deepening democracy vis-=E0-vis responsible reporting was in the offing and hoped that journalists would take the outcome seriously.