The Ghana Institute of Journalism in collaboration with UNESCO Ghana Commission on 29th April 2021 held a stakeholders forum as a prelude to this year’s commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day.
Media personalities including Mr. Zakaria Tanko Musah, media law lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Mrs. Linda Asante-Agyei, the Vice President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and Mr. Manasseh Azure Awini, a freelance journalist, during presentations at the event were hopeful that press freedom is achievable. The speakers noted that the nation has made significant progress with regards to press freedom, but said some more work needed to be done in the areas of protection of the rights and freedoms of media practitioners.
According to them, there is the need for the country to ensure economic independence and public cooperation for the work of media practitioners, arguing that the nation suffers when the media is denied the needed information for its operation.
On the economic independence of the media, Mr. Tanko Musah mentioned that economic freedom for the media improves the quality of work of media practitioners at all levels and encouraged the government to prioritise that. He was of the view that the nation stands to benefit more if the practice of journalism is improved.
GJA Vice President, Mrs. Asante-Agyei pointed to the varying view on the state of press freedom in Ghana and cited the recent description of the Ghanaian media as timid, partisan, intimidated and uncritical by Mr. Sam Jonah as one of such views.
“The best empirical tool to measure press freedom in Ghana is the Press Freedom Index, which currently ranks Ghana as 30th in the world and 2nd in Africa,” she noted and explained that this meant an improvement in the continent and maintenance of position at the world stage.
“Though we have challenges, we are not bad at all. With training and conscious efforts by media practitioners to be professional at all times and to respect our own code of ethics, we will move higher on the radar of media freedom in the world,” she intimated.
Manasseh Azure, on his part, called for a concerted effort by all actors to ensure that the media is allowed to work in a free, safe and conducive environment without the need for police protection.
The forum was held at the Dzorwulu Campus of the Ghana Institute of Journalism under the theme: ‘Information as A Public Good: Media Literacy, Press Freedom and the State of Journalism in Ghana’, with dignitaries from various state institutions including the Ministry of Information and the Ghana Police Service, civil society organisations, and students in attendance.