Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has urged journalists to give attention to development-oriented news reportage.
He appealed to journalists to use the power of their pens, inks, and voices through constructive criticism and the promulgation of development-oriented news in order to make the nation great and strong; as echoed in Ghana's national anthem.
He said the government needs the critical and analytical lenses of journalists not just for the area of pointing out problems but also letting the world know the good things that they and the generality of the Ghanaian public were doing.
Vice President Bawumia made the appeal in his address on Saturday in Accra at the 24th Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Awards Night and the GJA Platinum Anniversary Celebration.
The event was held under the theme: “Democracy, Freedom, and Independence of the Press in Ghana: 70 Years of the GJA's Contributions”.
“As we gather together in the fraternity of the media and journalism profession, it should not be lost on us to take stock of our works in the past, look inward and examine how we have felt and look forward to perfecting what we shall do into the future,” he said.
Citing the ancient Greek dictum of Socrates, he said, “An unexamined life is not worth living”.
The Vice President reminded journalists of some of the basic elements of their profession, which they must keep and remind themselves all the time.
He said the essential principles and practices of journalism were that “journalism’s first obligation is to the
truth, its first loyalty is to citizens, its essence is a discipline of verification and its practitioners must
maintain an independence from those they cover”.
“It must serve as an independent monitor of power; it must provide a public forum for public criticism and compromise. It must try to keep the significance, interest, and relevance. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportionate.”
He said journalism practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience; and that citizens too have rights and responsibilities when it comes to news.
“I believe these are critical elements of journalism that every journalist should try to embrace for us to build a better society,” he said.
He said, as an administration, the government is committed to supporting the work of the media.
The Vice President recounted that President Kufuor's Administration repealed the criminal libel law and provided the GJA with a permanent working office.
He said Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, then the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice led that repeal of the criminal libel law.
He added that under President Nana Akufo-Addo they have passed the decades-old Rights To Information (RTI) Law with a coordinated mechanism for the protection of journalists as well as a framework for a media capacity enhancement program adding that “this RTI Act would be operationalized of course very soon”.
Vice President Bawumia said the need to have a coordinated mechanism for the safety of journalists has gained prime importance the world over, as attacks on journalists have been on the rise globally.
“Additionally, the need to have the media function effectively in our democracy has birthed the capacity enhancement programme.”
He said the GJA and the Ministry of Information are working together to come out with a modality for the implementation of the capacity enhancement program.
Vice President Dr. Bawumia extended his congratulatory message to the award winners.
Mr. Pius Enam Hadzide, a Deputy Minister of Information, who congratulated the GJA on its 70th anniversary, also lauded the media's role in disseminating information to the citizenry.
Mr. Roland Affail Monney, GJA President, said the GJA's 70 years journey had not been easy and they could only express their gratitude to God for the great things he had done for their noble association.
“As we mark the 70th anniversary of the GJA, the media fraternity need to take a hard look at the challenges (facing them) to find ways of addressing them,” he said.
“This requires unity of purpose and rallying behind the cause for total freedom and independence of the media in Ghana. With one mind and common voice, we can overcome someday.”
The 2018 GJA Best Journalist Award was won by Madam Doreen Hammond, an Editor with the Graphic Communications Group Limited.