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07.10.2005 General News

Journalists cautioned against fanning socio-political conflicts

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Accra, Oct. 7, GNA - Journalists have been warned against the tendency to fan socio-political conflicts in their zeal to sensationalise their stories "in the name of scoops". "While informing, educating and entertaining society, journalists must warn of dangers ahead but must guard against tilting the scale of national equilibrium," Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Deputy Minister of Information, said in Accra on Friday.

The Deputy Minister, who was inaugurating the Communicators Club of the African Institute of Journalism and Communications (AIJC), reminded journalists that by the ethics of their profession, they were required as gatekeepers, to be neutral in their presentation of facts. "The abiding principle guiding any reportage should be the promotion of national stability," she said.

Ms Botchwey said although the Government had promoted freedom of speech to ensure that journalists were given an open field, "the freedom to publish and be damned comes with a responsibility". She said the printed or spoken word could build or destroy depending on the content of the message.

The Deputy Minister observed that a journalist worth his or her training and experience would not publish the raw message just because he must do his work.

"He should consider the impact the report would have on the people receiving it and whether it would engender peace, harmony and national progress."

She urged journalists never to forget their responsibilities under the development media theory that exhorts them to be vehicles of nation building.

Ms Botchwey stated that since it was necessary for Ghana to embrace Information Communication Technology in order to move with the emerging information society, the Government was committed to deploying ICT within the economy.

She said it was in this regard that the Ministry of Information had come out with a Development Communication Policy (DevCom), aimed at effective communication, which was crucial for the implementation of Government policies and programmes.

"According to the policy, the commitment to democratic governance calls for the adoption of a form of information communication in the country, which decentralises the information system by the public sector."

Mr Christian Dziwornu, President of the Club, said the AIJC sought to be a creative leader in training communication professionals to support socio-economic development and, therefore, the need to form such a Club.

He said communicators should go beyond the routine of gathering and disseminating of information by educating the public to influence attitudes and opinions.

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