Posted by: africanpressorganization | 26 December 2008

Ghana / Ghanaian media are an asset for the presidential election



Ghana / Ghanaian media are an asset for the presidential election


DOHA, Qatar, December 26, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Ghanaians will go to the polls on 28 December to choose a president from the two candidates who came out neck and neck in the first round of voting two weeks earlier. Since adopting a multi-party political system in 1992, Ghana has proved to be one of the few true democracies in Africa. Local and foreign observers agreed that the first round of the presidential election on 7 December went off quietly and transparently.


The responsibility and moderate attitude of the Ghanaian media are among the factors helping to make the election a success. The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) reminded media of their “duty to be balanced and unbiased”. Ahead of the poll, the GJA conducted a campaign to raise awareness of the issues and set up a committee to update recommendations on media election coverage dating from 1996. The committee included experienced journalists, legal experts and a member of the Electoral Commission.


In an interview with the Doha Centre for Media Freedom, Ransford Tetteh, the GJA president, explained that the aim of the recommendations was to ensure the media brought voters “full, accurate and unbiased news”.


“Two weeks before the start of the poll our national committee, which includes media representatives from all parts of the country, met to approve the final draft”, he said. “We dealt with their reservations and secured their support. We emphasised the need to respect the role of the Electoral Commission. It was vital to ensure that the media, and especially the broadcasting sector, drew a distinction between the provisional results picked up by their reporters at polling stations and the official results published by the commission.”


A media centre was set up at the AJG’s headquarters to pass on the final results to national and foreign media. “It was a challenge, because the results took a long time to come in”, Tetteh went on. “The commission only announced the results 72 hours after the polls closed.”


With more than 100 radio stations spread all over the country, about 40 newspapers and eight TV stations, Ghana has one of the most varied media landscapes in Africa. But Tetteh pointed out that problems remained and that despite their maturity, the Ghanaian media sometimes failed to observe professional standards. “Despite that and their financial problems, the media have managed to regain their professionnalism and fulfil their role as the fourth estate”, he said, adding that he hoped Ghana would continue to act as a model for neighbouring countries.


In the second round of voting, Ghanaians must choose between Nana Akufo-Addo of the ruling New Patriotic Party and John Atta-Mills of the National Democratic Congress. Tetteh said the elections, which have been closely followed by Ghanaians, were serving as “a platform for the emergence of citizen-based journalism in Ghana”.



SOURCE : Doha Centre for Media Freedom


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