Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, has tasked the media not to peddle in rumours, because journalism does not thrive on it. According to him, the media should draw the lines between facts, comments, and conjecture, which is the tenet of professional journalism, adding that the greatest asset of professionalism is credibility, which comes with accuracy of information and the fair manner it is presented in.
The Asantehene was speaking at the launch of the Media Enforcement Programme at the Manhyia Palace on Monday. It was on the theme, “Equipping the Media to play effective role in our nation building.”
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II stated that, the media could be proud of its major role in the success story of Ghana’s democracy and capitalise on it to do more to enhance stable socio-economic growth of the country.
He reminded the media never to forget that it was loss of credibility whenever it publishes materials that turn out to be untrue, asked practitioners to also disabuse their minds of the misconception that freedom had no limitations because of the removal of the Criminal Label Law.
He further noted that it was only the criminal element which would send journalists to jail that has been removed, and that journalists could be sued for defamation of character.
The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, on his part, said the programme had become necessary, as a result of the engagements his Ministry had with stakeholders, and thanked Otumfuo for accepting to unveil it in Kumasi.
The following is the full speech of the Information Minister.
I would like to thank the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, for welcoming us into his palace and hosting us for the opening of Ghana’s National Media Capacity Enhancement program organised by stakeholders in the Media Industry and sponsored by the Ministry of Information and partners.
About two years ago, we at the Ministry of Information commenced a series of engagements with stakeholders in the media industry to develop a series of programs with the objective of supporting the Ghanaian Media. The media, which is designed to play a very critical role in our national life cannot be left to its own devices in what has become a highly competitive ecosystem.
Otumfuo two major needs came up for attention at the end of the engagements.
- The need to support stakeholders in the industry to regularly train practicing journalists so their capacity is enhanced in the area of ethics, professionalism, media law, impact journalism, use of digital tools and investigative journalism.
- The need to support a co-ordinated mechanism for the safety of journalists.
Last year, a coordinated mechanism for the safety of journalists was rolled out by the National Media Commission. While still in its early stages, the National Media Commission will require immense financial support from the state, development partners and civil society groups to make it fully functional and effective.
On the matter of Capacity Enhancement, the Ministry of Information encouraged the stakeholders in Media to work together to develop a capacity Enhancement program through which it could impact the landscape of practicing journalists. Pursuant to our encouragement and support, the stakeholders comprising
– The National Media Commission
– The Ghana Journalists Association
– The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association
– The Private Newspaper Publishers Association (Prinpag)
– The Institute of Professional Studies, and
– The Communication Educators Association of Ghana
– Civil Society Groups in Media
– Selected leading journalists and media houses
Have worked together to set up an Independent Working Group through which they have;
(1) Conducted a skills gap analysis of practicing journalists
(2) Develop a curriculum for training practicing journalists
(3) Selected their own faculty from amongst leading academia and industry practitioners to administer the curriculum.
This is what has culminated in the National Media Capacity Enhancement Program, launched in Accra in November and which opens in Kumasi today with the first cohort of a targeted 250 practicing journalists drawn from across the country to be trained for the next 1 week on emerging issues in journalism.
As I mentioned earlier the needs assessment, curriculum development, administration of training is all being done by this independent group of industry stakeholders. Our Commitment as a Government is to provide scholarships for 250 beneficiaries who will be selected by the committee to participate in the program for the year 2022.
I wish to record my deepest appreciation to the stakeholders under the leadership of Professor Kwansa-Aidoo chair of the working committee and rector if GIJ, for their strong and unfettered collaboration over the period in ensuring that this has not remained a dream but has become the reality we are witnessing today.
In our industry there is often not much working together. We have not been united in building solutions to common challenges we face. This has mostly limited how much impact and growth we can record together. This therefore is a refreshing beginning and I pray the collaboration among players in the sector lasts. I encourage all stakeholders to see the strength in this collaboration as a compliment to our individual efforts to grow our industry together.
Permit me also to thank well in advance, the faculty or resource persons drawn from leading institutions and media houses that will be taking participants through the various modules with the hope that majority of practitioners will reflect the high standards we desire as the norm and not the exception.
Otumfuo, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
The theme for this programme which is “Equipping the media to play an effective role in our nation building” could not be more apt and timely. This theme invites all of us to reflect on how germane the 4th estate of the realm, the media, is, to the exercise of nation building. Without the media, it is difficult for the state to inform its citizens of developments in the realm and for citizens to feedback to the state what their priorities may be.
But the assumption that media necessarily has the capacity to handle all matters that pop up, daily, from archeology to zoology only because they have been recruited to work in media houses is false.
This falsehood is further aggravated by the reality that a significant proportion of practicing journalists are not recruited because they have graduated from prior journalism training from institutions established for the purpose. Indeed, Otumfuo many practitioners, including myself when I was initially recruited as a journalist in 2007, have had no prior professional training. It takes regular training and capacity enhancement to keep practitioners on the path of high level professional conduct and by the extension, to keep the industry highly professional.
The task of supporting the industry, which is already resource constrained, amidst high competition, ought not to be taken for granted, nor left to any single group to execute. Indeed the media is so delicate that leaving this task to any single group, could become an undue avenue for manipulation of the media. That is why we are delighted that it has taken a collaborative effort of the stakeholders to execute this program.
As a government office our task is to support it. And we are very happy to play this role. This industry is one that has very little support. So may I take advantage of this opportunity to call on our development partners to support this collaborative effort so we can assist more and more journalists in the near future.
We, at the Ministry of Information, believe that addressing the capacity challenges faced by the media in this comprehensive, coordinated and regular manner will yield more dividend than the occasional support given by stakeholders as individuals especially around election seasons.
To my colleague journalists whose applications have been accepted by the stakeholders, let me encourage you to embrace the lessons of the next 1 week with all the seriousness and enthusiasm you can master.
To others who are considering taking up this opportunity in the near future, I encourage you to do so. To media houses especially countrywide that struggle to find resources to constantly train your teams, I say to you, this is the support you have been we waiting for; embrace it.
I hope we all take inspiration from Alvin Toffler the American writer and businessman when he said that “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn” to acquire some new knowledge in his field of endeavor. The world we are living in is fast and dynamic, where change remains constant. Let’s keep learning so we stay ahead of the curve. Otumfuo, once again, we are most grateful for your hospitality.