Media Practitioners have been charged to work within the rules and regulations and weigh the consequences of their actions in the face of the regulations for the larger interest of society.
A communiqué signed by the Media Ethics and Law Seminar Group, organized by the Institute of Commercial Management (ICM-UK) and Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), stated that, the right to freedom of expression, free speech, editorial independence, and of the overall mandate of the media by the 1992 Constitution go with obligations imposed on the media in the promotion of democracy, to hold government accountable and promote divergent views.
It acknowledged that, democracy is centered on respect for rules and regulations, since journalists are at the forefront of social change, advocacy and democracy, and for that matter need to work within the rules and regulations whilst weighing the consequences of their actions for the larger interest of society.
The communiqué signed by Mr. Akoto Ampaw, Mr. Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, Dr. Doris Dartey, Dr. Affail Monney and Getrude Nyarko, at the end of the seminar also observed that, the constitution also acknowledges that dissent is an important contribution to the promotion of justice.
According to the statement, Ethics is about conscience and that Ethical standards are better respected when they evolve from the individual and are voluntarily adopted by members of a society or a professional body.
It, therefore, called for a strict adherence to professional ethics through objective and accurate reporting, high degree of impartiality and fairness, the pursuit of truth and of freedom of expression.
“Ethical journalism demands fairness, accurate, competence, professionalism, objectivity, avoiding bias, retraction, acceptance of criticisms, escape from manipulations and influence and accountability to the public” the communiqué indicated adding that Ethics is essential to the stability and decency of Ghana as irresponsible journalism threatens freedom of expression hence the need to avoid corruptible practices and respect for privacy and human dignity.
It also cautioned journalists to avoid pre-judging issues by making comments that pre-determine judgment, especially in the coverage of court cases.
The statement expressed the need for journalists to have the trust of the public, which it said, would depend on the quality of the practice of journalism that they redeem themselves and image');">the image of the profession as a whole, adding the role of media in society includes education.
It said when journalists act unethically; they undermine their role as journalists in contributing to the education of Ghanaians and to the overall development and progress of the country. They expressed the danger that the media can potentially poison the justice system through insensitive reporting of issues with legal implications, as the media the capacity to do good and evil and therefore must always remember that they serve the public interest in all that they do.
It stressed that journalists should respect the right of the citizens to privacy and avoid invading the private spaces of citizens in the name of the right of the public to know. The private spaces said to border on relationships of confidentiality include the right of privacy of correspondence, of medical records, of sexual preferences, and doctor to patient information, priest-confessor, lawyer-client relationships, which journalists must respect by making public, the information derived from them.
It also underscored that, journalism is about facts, not imagination, and for that matter, should endeavor to do right all times in the service of the citizens through their journalism practice as well as avoid exploiting the citizens for unfair advantage and opportunities, while applying care and sensitivity in reporting on children victims of trauma by protecting their identities, and to maintain the integrity and respect of journalists, they must pay attention to the ethical and legal practices that can bring respect to the journalism profession, for instance, they should avoid plagiarizing other people’s work.
The statement further disclosed that, the way forward of the current state of pluralism in the media in Ghana can potentially become an opportunity to uphold good journalistic practices to raise the profile of the profession in the country if they work within their ethical and professional code of conduct of the GJA and stressed the need for journalists to know the Code of Conduct of the GJA and apply it to their professional practice on a daily basis.
The communiqué also urged the media to constantly remind themselves of their ethical legal obligations to the public they serve and called for the passage of the Broadcasting Bill before the 2016 election so as to bring about sanity in the broadcasting landscape and to regulate content since the present broadcasting landscape has no laws regulating which is supposed to ensure the application of clear standards of broadcasting.
The forum also called for a comprehensive broadcasting law that clearly spells out the dos and don’ts of broadcasting and gives the National Media Commission (NMC) the authority to sanction erring broadcasting stations. The media should stay on the alert and be eternally vigilant in protecting the right to freedom of speech to avoid a re-introduction of some form of defamation law regardless of the expansive provisions of free speech that are prescribed by the 1992 Constitution.
The group urged the media to acknowledge the challenges of the digital and social media age and recommended that NMC, the GJA, and key stakeholders begin a conversation to explore ways of managing the social media and new technology spaces as they relate to Ghana since is not easily amendable to regulation because it operates within the medium of boundless freedom.
Source: The Chronicle
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