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A monitoring report on "Media Reportage of Corruption" has found that the Ghanaian media is replete with too many "he said" or straight news reports from workshops, speech events and pronouncements by prominent individuals rather than investigative pieces.

It said even though the sheer volumes of corruption related stories published within the period of study indicated that the incident was a relevant issue to the Ghanaian media, the placement of the stories which, were mostly on the inside pages, did not give them much prominence that ought to have been given them.

The report was released at a dissemination workshop by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) in Accra on Wednesday.

It was the outcome of a research commissioned by the GACC into the media reportage of issues of corruption, transparency and accountability from February to September this year.

The research, conducted for the GACC by Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, Director of School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, was to assess and review the role of the media in the fight against corruption as well as create a database of media reportage on corruption and anti-corruption crusade to serve as a basis for better engagement with and training for the media.

A total of 607 stories representing an average of 76 stories per month that constituted the subject matter were gathered for the study, which involved a sample of seven state and privately-owned newspapers and three online radio stations.

The report showed that straight news reportage took 86 per cent of the stories, 6.6 per cent for editorial opinions, 5.6 per cent for investigative reports, 2 per cent for follow-ups, 1 per cent for interviews and 2 per cent for others.

It said corruption-related themes covered by the reports included allegations of corruption against politicians, local government, the judiciary and law-enforcement bodies and calls for probes by government among others.

The report said while public officials and politicians dominated as sources, many of the stories were one-source and lacked any investigative depth or analysis.

It said many of the stories only made passing reference to corruption or lack of transparency or accountability without further dilation.

"A lot of them reflected mere sloganeering on the issue rather than any substantive investigations on the issue by journalists and action on the part of officialdom."

In terms of quality of stories, the report said that the level of competence in terms of coverage was generally low adding that this indicated that journalists were not proactive in their approach to covering the issue and were susceptible to manipulation by political and other interests.

It said the civil society received modest coverage and limited exposure as sources and subjects to seek corruption-related information.

The report identified weak capacity and political partisanship as some of the causes of one-sided coverage by journalists.

It called on journalists, editors and media owners to resist pressures to report only on what was beneficial to political and private interests.

The report said journalists, editors and media owners must maintain editorial independence and assert their right to take editorial decisions according to conscience and codes of conduct and avoid selectivity in exposing corruption in public life.

It also called for capacity building through training for media workers as well as addressing of resource constraints to enable journalists to do more investigative reports.

Mrs Florence Dennis, Executive Secretary of GACC, said the Coalition would by close of the year organize two training programmes to equip journalists with the requisite skills on corruption reporting to enhance the fight against the canker.

Mr Kabral Blay Amihere, former President of the Ghana Journalists Association, called on journalists to do more investigative and exclusive reports to earn them recognition in society.
Source: GNA

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