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10.11.2005 General News

Law professor attacks media ...

By GNA
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... for poor performance and negativism Koforidua, Nov 10, GNA - A law lecturer at the University of Ghana, Prof Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, has spoken against what she described as "a decided trend of running down" institutions of democratic governance such as parliament and political parties by sections of the media.

She said some journalists, particularly those in the electronic media on whom the citizens increasingly rely for information, "appear to be pursuing an anti-parliament agenda that bodes no good for the nation's constitutional democracy."

Such negativisms, the professor said, amounted to attempting "to subvert the participation of the people in governance and create a sense of frustration of not being adequately represented therein."

Prof Mensa-Bonsu was speaking at the first in a series of workshops organized by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) for its members at Koforidua.

It was on the theme "The challenges of the media in the promotion of human rights and democratic governance- Reflections on the National Reconciliation Commission's (NRC) Report."

The workshop was being held against the backdrop of the damning National Reconciliation Committee report that faulted the media for having assisted in the entrenchment of a culture of impunity, abuse of freedoms and the need for the media to overcome such tendencies. Prof Mensa-Bonsu spoke against resurgence in the negative attitude of the media that had contributed to the overthrow and legitimization of military juntas in the course of the country's history "the effect that are still with us."

"These characteristics, if allowed, still have a tendency to thwart our efforts at remaining a constitutional democracy and therefore would require concerted effort to ameliorate, to the end that the longevity of our constitutional democracy would be maintained."

Prof Mensa-Bonsu, who was a member of the erstwhile NRC, told media practitioners to let the experiences of the past that formed the basis for protections that the media enjoyed under the current constitution to inform their writings.

The media, the law lecturer said, must refrain from incessant criticisms, often motivated by partisanship, which in the past "wore down the moral energy of the people and served as a catalyst that opened the door to military adventurisms."

Prof Mensa-Bonsu was at a loss why some journalists sometimes failed to see the need to prop up democratic institutions "when it is well-known that they have always been the casualty of non-democratic assaults on the organs of state and have therefore suffered disabilities that require kind criticism and helpful nurturing."

"Much as it is the responsibility of the media to let us know who our office holders are, to ascertain whether they deserve the public trust, the media must, nonetheless, not pervert this function with the use of invective and the fabrication of malicious lies", she admonished. She said the media must learn to "recognize progress and build on it rather than always turning events into ego battles and exercise their function with due regard for the interest for other people's reputations, rights and freedoms."

Miss Adjoa Yeboah-Afari, the President of the GJA, said championing human rights must incontestably remain the prime duty of journalists.

She appealed to journalists to study the NRC report and be imbued by its findings so that in the future, they could muster courage at all times to stand up resolutely against human rights abuses in whatever form.

Mr Tom Brentuo, the Eastern Regional Chairman of the GJA, appealed to his peers to eschew negative tendencies such as mediocrity in performance, mercenary attitude and the self-righteous approach they indulged in that is tarnishing the image of the profession.

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