Larry Paa Kwesi Moses, the Ghana Journalists Association Regional President for Bono East, Bono and Ahafo regions, has reminded the media about the need to exercise a high level of professionalism in their reportage on the coronavirus pandemic.
He further urges the media to avoid sensationalism and scaremongering, which he said could heighten anxiety among the populace.
“It’s clear that there is the urgent need for journalists to be responsible, circumspect and ethical in their reportage on this coronavirus pandemic and ensure that all the basic journalistic questions, i.e. the 5Ws and the H are well exhausted to ensure accuracy, clarity and completeness of every story”, he explained.
Mr. Larry Paa Kwesi Moses (Larry Bow!) was addressing a Trainer or Trainers workshop held in Sunyani for Media Practitioners and officials of the Information Services Department (ISD) and other stakeholders on the novel Coronavirus disease.
Participants, who were drawn from the Bono East, Bono and Ahafo regions and, were expected to impart the knowledge gained at the workshop to their colleagues in their workplaces and even spread the information in their various homes.
The GJA Regional President condemned the practice where some news presenters, especially Akan News Casters, exaggerated and sensationalized news stories in the discharge of their duties and advised them to put a top to that since it undermined the integrity of the journalism profession.
He said the general public had been flooded with all kinds of information about COVID-19 since the disease broke out some months ago saying, “this trend presents challenges for reporters and the scientists they talk to when researching their stories. Good reporting has to distinguish legitimate sources of information from rumors and half-truths.”
“The outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a special call to duty for all journalists, especially the public health beat reporter. Journalists are expected to lead the frontlines in providing the news, information and education that the public need.”
Mr. Larry Paa Kwesi Moses further cautioned the participants “to be wary of Fake News: According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), COVID-19 has spawned “a massive info emic” of conspiracy theories and sham treatment recommendations “that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.”
“As a journalist, you have a responsibility to help separate fact from fiction. Article 8 of the GJA Code of Ethics says “A journalist separates facts, opinions and commentary such that news is presented objectively without embellishment.”
The Regional President of the Ghana Medical Association, Dr. Alex Egotey, commended President Akufo-Addo and the government for taking bold and pragmatic steps to contain the spread of the disease in the country.
According to him, the steps taken by the government so far, especially on lockdown, the suspension of church activities and other large gatherings have yielded positive results and asked the public to religiously abide by the directives on social distancing and other safety protocols which have been announced.
Dr. Egotey also commended the media for “doing well in educating the public on the disease, especially on the preventive aspects such as hand-washing with soap and running water.