The Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) marked World Press Freedom Day 2022 with a film show and seminar at the North-Dzorwulu campus on 5th May 2022. This year’s celebration was held in partnership with the Embassy of the United States of America (USA) in Ghana, and it was on the theme “Fake News, Disinformation and Misinformation”.
During the seminar which was organized by the Department of Integrated Social Sciences (DISS) of the Faculty of Integrated Communication Sciences (FICS), the Dean of FICS, Dr Modestus Fosu, mentioned in his opening remarks, that GIJ has consistently marked the World Press Freedom Day over the past years with various activities. Reflecting on the theme of the seminar, Dr Fosu stated that problems are part of life, and the proliferation of fake news, misinformation, and disinformation are the nascent problems that modern must societies must grapple with.
The Information Officer at the US Embassy, Mr Kevin Broshana on his part affirmed the commitment of the government of the United States of America to promote press freedom as a democratic ideal. “The role of the press to raise questions, clarify, and explain issues in a democracy is irreplaceable. Democracies do not long survive without a strong Fourth Estate”, he said. Mr Broshana again mentioned that the US embassy holds multiple programmes to support journalism students and working journalists, including exchange programmes in the United States of America each year.
As part of the seminar, three (3) reputable media personalities were empanelled to dilate on the theme of the seminar- Fake News, Disinformation and Misinformation. The panellists were Mr Bernard Avle, General Manager of Citi FM/TV, Ms Caroline Anipah, Ghana Country Lead for Dubawa and Mr. Nehemiah Attigah, Principal Lead for Odekro and Assistant lead for Ghana Decides. Mr. Nehemiah Attigah emphasized during his presentation that there is the need for media users to stop, reflect and verify information before they share it on social media. He encouraged seminar attendees to play a role in fighting misinformation and disinformation by being vigilant, especially in the online environment, since some unscrupulous people driven by economic incentives and mischief can use advanced technologies to manipulate information, including videos and images.
Caroline Anipa on her part, noted that many journalists are in a hurry to break the news and therefore ignore or fail to verify the information. She stressed the need for journalists to acquire fact-checking skills and indicated her organization’s willingness to partner with relevant stakeholders, including GIJ to train more students and media workers on fact-checking.
Finally, drawing from his over twenty (20) years of experience in broadcasting, Mr. Bernard Avle quipped that journalism is a discipline of verification and, therefore, it is the responsibility of journalists to fact-check their sources. He noted that the obligation of journalism is to the truth, and hence, journalists must strive to be independent of the people and issues they cover.
The seminar was attended by representatives of the Embassy of the United States of America in Ghana and a cross-section of faculty members, including, the Head of the Department of Integrated Social Sciences Dr., Kodwo Anson Boateng and the Head of the Department for Languages, Mr. Dickson Amexo. There were also students from various faculties of GIJ. Some of the students who attended the seminar indicated that they benefited greatly. “I learnt about the core mandate of journalists being truthful irrespective of the situation as their reputation is at stake”, a student (Juliet Gavor) said.