Accra, April 22, GNA - Whilst lack of effective communication was a threat to any government, positive media reportage however, helped to create room for public participation in the decision-making process, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Deputy Minister for Information said on Saturday in Accra.
Ms Botchwey said, when media delivered issues positively, it contributed effectively to socio-economic development, since leadership would be more easily held accountable for public decisions. She was speaking at the second graduation of the Africa Institute of Journalism and Communication under the theme, The Media and Socio-Economic Development.
Ms Botchwey said the theme provided food for thought in view of the media being seen as the gate- keeper of government, saying, an effective gate keeping would produce most productive results, whose impact on socio-economic development could be very positive. She said the media's role was decisive in attainment of government policies, programmes and activities. Its long-established role of information gathering and dissemination was a vital component of good governance in every country, since government relied on effective communication to plan and execute programmes, leading to socio-economic development.
She said information was the basis for people to have the capacity to perceive, interpret, understand and transform the world, adding that, from the dawn of human society, information had always been a crucial factor in arousing curiosity, stimulating thought, underpinning effective decision-making and making action possible.
With the advent of information technology and its convergence with telecommunications and audiovisual technologies made possible by digitisation of information in all forms, the media had facilitated the creating, gathering, processing, storing, disseminating and usage of information in day-to-day activities.
Ms Botchwey appealed to the graduates to be committed to their work, make sure stories put in public domain were edifying and not just sensationalism and ensure that facts had been crossed checked and authenticated.
Mr Rudolf P. Von Ballmoos, Ambassador of the Republic of Liberia said, while one of the so-called golden rules of journalism was to disavow persuasion, on the contrary the media today had enormous powers to do the opposite.
He said media men were not apolitical; on the contrary media people were political animals, who pursue politics in their everyday lives and in that respect, they used their power to influence the thinking of policy-makers and ordinary people, because the knowledge of these people come directly from what they see on the television, read in the news papers and on the radio.
He said the media had the ability to structure and organise the world in which we lived; it defines, persuades, informs and misinforms us and is therefore a social and cultural force in our societies. For, when you wrote about human suffering, poverty and extreme hunger you provided knowledge about existing conditions that needed to be addressed and in that light, you try to influence the decision makers, government and donors about what to do in such circumstance, he added.
Mr Ballmoos also warned that the media could also play a role in keeping people in a perpetual state of under development and undermine their confidence through stereotyping, saying, " do not follow the principle that bad news is good news but try to believe that good news is also good news.
He, therefore, urged the graduates to move away from sensationalism to investigative and research for news items, adding, do not get involved in what some development practitioners refer to as development pornography, a practice by which journalist portray naked and malnourished children with bloated stomachs in order to drive home the point that people were suffering in our part of the world. While these have been useful in mobilizing resources in order to provide short-term solutions to development problems, they, however, reinforced stereotypes that made certain communities to look down upon others as helpless and hopeless people.
You need to understand the issues in order to explain them to the public and that is the only way you can play a role in development, saying, for instance, in talking about poverty, journalists should try to explain why people are poor and others are not and in writing about refugees do not assume that they are all helpless and hopeless people, since many are well educated but were forced out of their countries because of particular reasons stemming from natural disaster or conflicts, so they are mere victims of certain unfavourable circumstances in their home countries.
Various awards were presented to deserving students. Out of fifteen awards Mrs Korantema Adi-Dako, a staff of Kad Communications Limited, an editorial consultancy, received five awards. She was adjudged the best All Round Student and The Otumfio Osei Tutu II Award of a computer and two million cedis.
Mrs Korantema, a mother of two was also best in Journalism, Mass communication, Social Studies, Advertising and Marketing Communications. Her prize for each of these awards was a 20-inch TV set and one million. The rest are Ms Lynn Adzoa Lotsu, best in Information Technology. Her prize was an Advanced Training, worth ten million cedis, Ms Hariet Blewudzi, best student in English and Financial Reporting, a TV set plus one million cedis cash, Ms Elikplim Yvonne Harlley, best in Press Law, books and one million cedis cash, Mr John Evans Cole, best in Demography and Population Communication and best in Public Relations. He received a set of books, two million cedis and a television set. Mr Antwi Adolph Frimpong, most discipline student received a sound system and one million cedis, Mr Asante Lord Fordjour, best photojournalism, had a Kodak Camera and one million cedis and Ms Jacqueline Robertson, best in Communication Research, received a television and one million cedis.