Samuel Agyeman, of Metro TV receiving his award from Vice-President Mahama, for being the overall best Journalist.
The Vice-President, John Mahama, has urged the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to purge the media landscape of unprofessional practice by a section of its members which threatens to undermine the image of the noble profession.
He said issues about lack of accuracy and objectivity, poor language, and the activities of charlatans were uncomfortable to speak about, “but if we must purge our journalism of these negative tendencies, then we must first discuss the issues.”
Speaking at the 15th GJA Awards ceremony at the Banquet Hall , of the state House in Accra on Saturday, Vice-President Mahama noted that people’s perceptions were shaped by the media, which meant that the work of journalists should come with a sense of fairness, credibility and responsibility.
The occasion, themed, “Unethical journalism and corruption in the media: A danger to democracy,” witnessed the recognition of 37 people in various categories, who distinguished themselves in the journalism profession.
Vice-President Mahama observed that notwithstanding the negative tendencies, the media had claimed the pride of place in making Ghana the bastion of democracy. “We must appreciate the media for giving voice to dissenting opinions and giving voice to the voiceless,” he added.
As part of the constitutional review, he said the government was looking at Chapter 12 (section two), “to see how we can further improve the standards of journalism and expand the frontiers of press freedom.”
Additionally, he said institutions of governance such as the National Media Commission, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, the National Commission for Civic Education, needed to be strengthened and adequately resourced to perform their roles effectively.
Vice-President Mahama commended the efforts of the GJA and its partners towards securing a broadcasting law, and assured the association that the government was committed to promulgating a law to improve the standards of broadcast journalism in Ghana.
“Government is also committed to making the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation a true public broadcaster,” Vice-President Mahama said, adding, GBC will be assisted to play its role more effectively.
He said the theme for the occasion was an indication that the GJA was committed to listening to public concerns and addressing it, stressing that it gave GJA the opportunity to re-focus on its ethics, media standards and the issue of corruption.
Vice-President Mahama said the annual awards were in the right direction because it promoted qualitative journalism. He congratulated the award winners and urged them to strive to achieve higher laurels.
Mr. John Tia Akologo, Minister of Information suggested that the GJA consider making its code of ethics legally binding on all its members so that relevant legal sanctions could be applied when any member fell foul in their application.
“I am aware of the inherent difficulties that such a move entails but with proper consultation and advocacy results could be achieved,” he said, adding, “Any move by the GJA aimed at ridding this country of charlatans and non-professionals in the media would receive maximum collaboration from government.”
He noted that corruption was not only a phenomenon to be covered by the press or something that existed entirely outside the newsroom but was also found inside the media itself. “There are cases where media organizations pay low wages to their personnel thereby making them susceptible to corruptions,” he said.
To combat the trend including the ‘money for service’ phenomenon, the minister said journalists themselves needed to do an introspection of their various organizations and the reasons for which they have been established.
Mr. Ransford Tetteh, president of the GJA said there was empirical evidence that Ghana enjoyed a high level of press freedom. That fact, he said, was attested to by the current press freedom index of the global media watch organisation.
He conceded however that the media still had some way to go to be able to live up fully to public expectation and pointed out that the legal and moral authority of the media could only be strengthened through respect for ethics and the abhorrence of corruption.
Kabral Blay Amihere, Chairman of the National Media Commission urged the government to adequately resource the commission to enable it to effectively regulate the media landscape.
Mr. Aidan White, Secretary-General of the International Federation of Journalists, who chaired the function, urged Ghanaian journalists to expose corruption wherever it was and to lead the struggle for tolerance, democracy, peace and development.