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16.03.2006 General News

Karikari bemoans absence of written local language in media


Accra, March 16, GNA - Professor Kwame Karikari, Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa, on Wednesday underscored the role of local languages in communication for development. Citing Korea and Malaysia as examples, he noted that the absence of written local languages in the Ghanaian media was a bane on the country's development.

Prof. Karikari made the observation in Accra, when he delivered the maiden Bannerman Memorial Lectures, on the theme; "The Independent Press and Ghana's Socio Economic Development." The Accra-based Africa Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) instituted the lectures in recognition of the pioneering role Charles and Edmond Bannerman, two brothers; played in the genesis and promotion of journalism in Ghana, then Gold Coast. The Bannerman Brothers produced the first newspaper in handwriting, and by persistence and perseverance, handwrote 300 copies, before they had access to a printing press.

Prof. Karikari defined the Independent Press as privately owned press, in terms of financial ownership and operation, a press whose investment was independent of any political, sectarian or special interest groups. An independent press is also a newspaper operated by business people, and had editorial policy free from narrow social groupings, emanating from the concept of liberalism, based on the idea of independent capital.

Prof. Karikari went down the memory lane in the development of newspapers since the time of the Bannermans and said right from their inception; newspapers had been adversarial, with advocacy missions. They play democratic, promotional, combative and mobilising roles. The content and tone of newspapers had also been determined by the exigencies of the time, but objective journalism was a product of wire service after the Second World War, he said. He commended the private press on holding public office holders accountable by exposing corruption, but noted, however, that the role of the press in challenging spurious products was currently weak.

Prof. Karikari, who is also a former Director of the School of Communication Studies and Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, stressed the need to use clear language both in writing and in speaking, and described as babble and gargle, the use of a mixture of English and vernacular during discussions on air. Mr Kojo Yankah, President of the AIJC, who chaired the lecture, urged students of journalism and communication to take note of the challenges of the profession and to be prepared to break into areas that were hard to reach promptly with newspapers and other products of their profession.