Monday, August 20, 2007
GJA honours Nkrumah, Danquah & Kufuor
Story: NEHEMIA OWUSU ACHIAW
PRESIDENT J.A. Kufuor had his name etched in the history of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) as the first sitting Head of State to be honoured by the association.
The GJA, at its 12th Awards Night last Saturday, gave President Kufuor an award for pursuing media-friendly policies unprecedented in Ghana’s history since he assumed office in 2001.
Also honoured by the GJA was Ghana’s First President, the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, for his contribution to journalism in Africa and Ghana in particular, as well as the late Dr. J.B. Danquah, for bringing honour to journalism and for dignifying the then Gold Coast media.
President Kufuor did not mince words when he reminded journalists of the potential misreporting for the sake of sensationalism and commercial advantage which could have adverse effects on the stability of the country.
He expressed confidence in what he described as the vibrant and professionally competent GJA that could pursue more programmes for self-improvement of its members so that they would fulfil the expectations of the 1992 Constitution, which recognized them as the Fourth Estate of the Realm after the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.
Dilating on the theme for the awards ceremony, “Ghana at 50; Safeguarding Democracy through the Media”, President Kufuor said the most outstanding factor which tended to undermine democracy was “misreporting on the political situation for sensationalism and commercial advantage”.
The danger of such journalistic practice, the President said, was that given the present stage of Ghana’s development and long stretches of bad governance, widespread intimidation and venality in the country’s history, people tended to be gullible and cynical.
“In such a situation, powerful elements within the media who are not motivated by the public good in the conduct of their professional work tend to be subversive of the fragile machinery of the government and its institutions, as well as the stability of the nation.
“This is more so where, in an atmosphere of freedom of expression, as prevails in Ghana today, journalists persist on indulging in their pastime of casting palls of suspicion and discredit everything that the government does”, he lamented.
President Kufuor cited instances where on public talk shows on such a sensitive issue like energy, individuals openly accused the Head of State of lying.
Similarly, he said, some journalists put themselves out as all-knowing, pontificating about even very difficult and complex issues of governance without trying to approach the government for clarification of details of issues on which they licentiously commented without any proof.
President Kufuor urged journalists to be mindful of the fact that freedom of expression should always go hand in hand with a greater sense of responsibility towards the state as a whole.
“When in doubt, the journalist must always try to very and confirm before publication. This is the best guarantee for the sustenance of freedom of expression and the perception that the media personnel contribute positively to the development of the country.
“Such responsible conduct of the profession of journalism will also help to keep at bay political adventure that has little or nothing to offer by way of solution to the abject poverty, ignorance and disease that render society vulnerable and backward”, he said.
President Kufuor said the theme for the occasion brought to mind not only the vanguard role journalists had played in the political evolution of the nation but also the price that some of them had had to pay in defending democracy in the country.
He mentioned Dr. Danquah and Ms. Mabel Dove for their contributions to journalism practice during Ghana’s Independence struggle.
A citation accompanying the award given to President Kufuor said since his election, his administration had pursued a media-friendly policy unprecedented in Ghana’s history.
It said Kujfour’s administration had undoubtedly allowed media practitioners to go about their duties without fear and for hundreds of Ghanaians to contribute to media discussions without inhibitions.
The citation said the Kufuor’s administration had contributed immensely to Press Freedom and Free Expression Additionally, it said, the Criminal Libel Law, which dated back to colonial times, had been repealed from the statutes and the Castle, the seat of government, had also been made accessible to more media houses.
“For flow of press freedom and free expression under your administration, we present to you this award as “The Friend of the Media”.
In the citation accompanying the posthumous award to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the GJA said throughout his early career, Dr. Nkrumah practiced as a journalist and used the media to articulate the interests of the mass of the people.
In 1951, Dr. Nkrumah became the Leader of Government Business after the British colonial authority organized the first general election in Africa under universal franchise. In that position, the citation said, Dr. Nkrumah eventually led Ghana to independence in 1957.
On the country’s attainment of independence and his election as the first President of the country, Dr. Nkrumah set up the Ghana News Agency. The Guinea Press, which later became known as the New Times Corporation, and the Ghana New Times Corporation, and the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), which has trained many journalists and public relations practitioners for Ghana and Africa.
The citation about Dr. Danquah said as the doyen of Ghanaian politics, he helped to found the pro-independence United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) in addition to the fact that he was the first African to receive a doctorate in law from the University of London.
On his return to then Gold Coast in 1927, Dr. Danquah practiced as a journalist and founded the Times of West Africa, the first daily newspaper in the country, which ran from 1930 to 1935.
Daily Graphic - Monday, August 20, 2007 Page: 20 & 45