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VEEP CAUTIONS JOURNALISTS…Against deliberate misinformation

General News

Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia has cautioned journalists to be mindful of certain peculiar risks and inherent challenges in journalism that have the tendency to undermine the profession.

Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia has cautioned journalists to be mindful of certain peculiar risks and inherent challenges in journalism that have the tendency to undermine the profession.

 

He is of the conviction that these risks have emerged with the growing influence of new media technology.

Dr Bawumia, who gave the caution in a speech read for him by the Information Minister at the 25th celebration of World Press Freedom Day held in Accra, identified the risk of deliberate misinformation campaign as one of the challenges confronting the media.

The Vice President explained that with the proliferation of media channels, political actors had used the medium as a tool to fabricate stories in order to relate to the public, especially when it comes to issues of politics and war.

He stated that this development had enabled these actors to flexibly churn out their twisted thoughts through the traditional or new media channels as news.

In light of this, Dr. Bawumia pointed out that the trend should not be left to regulators to handle but rather tackled by media practitioners themselves.

“It is something that the world of media practitioners must boldly confront and assist the society to identify and eschew,” he advised.

Dr. Bawumia believes if this trend is not handled carefully, “it may in the long-term lead to a significant emasculation of the entire industry, with its rippling potentially catastrophic effects on the broader society.”

Another risk he identified is the inadvertent misinformation that is sometimes published by the mainstream media.

He observed that in a bid for media houses to be the first to break a news item, there might be a little twist of facts.

The Vice President also found it worrying that in situations where the public has been misinformed and the facts subsequently made known, the media house fails to acknowledge that it has erred.

He cautioned that in such circumstance, as the aforementioned, it is significant for the mainstream media to be upfront to admit that as at the time of going public, it did not have the full fact.

“That way we preserve the sanctity of the next broadcast or publication. In the absence of this, we will continuously weaken confidence in our institutions, even including the media, a situation that cannot bode well for journey ahead as nations,” the Vice-President said.

To this end, he encouraged media owners to continuously invest in building the specialization of their staff.

Dr. Bawumia added, “May I also call on practitioners the world over to on this day take a second look at the power you wield and the responsibility you owe society with a view to ensuring that you do not sacrifice integrity and the future of our societies for today’s headline or breaking news reference point.”

Delivering the key note address, Senior Policy Manager at World Wide Web Foundation, Nnenna Nwakanma, added her voice to moves to pass a law to ensure citizens get access to information needed to hold their government’s accountable.

Touching on the Rights to Information Bill that Ghana’s parliament is currently working on, she assured the gathering that she would monitor and lend any help necessary to ensure that the RTI bill was passed into law.

In his contribution, the Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, Getachew Engida, mentioned that the international conference was not to only discuss the challenges and threat journalists encounter in their line of duty, but to come up with possible solutions and learn from each other.

“We will therefore use this unique opportunity to discuss how can women journalists be empowered and protected from gender-based harassment, the kind of mechanisms at national levels that can be implemented and effectively help to keep journalists safe, what forms of regulation or self-regulation help to ensure freedom of speech online…” he stated.

He was unhappy that UNESCO had recorded more than 800 killed journalists in the last decade and 9 out of 10 killings go unpunished.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization together with the government of Ghana organized this year’s World Press Freedom Day.