President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said critiquing the work of a journalist or a media House cannot in any way be described as an attack on media freedom.
But when journalists are physically attacked or prevented from doing their work, no matter where it happened, that, the President said, is an attack on media freedom and must be roundly condemned by all” the President stated.
Speaking at the African Journalists’ Leaders Conference on Tuesday, 1st June 2021, President Akufo-Addo said there seems to be an emerging narrative proffered by some persons, that critiquing the work of a journalist constitutes an attack on media freedom. “That certainly cannot be described as an attack on media freedom.”
The President said “Having the freedom to criticise and oppose should also mean that the media is ready to accept and work with criticisms of its work by the citizenry or officialdom. That, for me, is one of the surest ways of improving the public discourse of our respective countries and we should all strive towards realising this.”
President Akufo-Addo, however, urged Journalists and media persons to use the event to address the phenomena of misinformation campaigns and fake news, which, sometimes, unfortunately, are propagated by some in the media.
The President argued that the tendency to report on only one side of a story and pass judgment, without either learning or give fair reportage to the other side, stifles the truth.
“The media should only be concerned about reporting the facts and should not lend themselves to being bought or being used to destroy the reputations of others,” he averred.
President Akufo-Addo said the media possessed immeasurable power which should be used to sacrifice or dent people’s integrity and the future of society with a so-called instant scoop or ill-considered publication.
The Rwanda genocide in 1994, he said, presents probably the best example of the calamity that can befall a country when the media is oblivious of or chooses to ignore this particular sacred role.
“In Rwanda, a radio station became a catalyst for fuelling the genocidal atrocities in which 800,000 people were, tragically, slaughtered. Although the country has picked itself up under the strong leadership of President Paul Kagame, there is no doubt that many Rwandans continue to suffer from the trauma,” he added.
African journalists and media organisations, the President stressed, must not and cannot take the national cohesion of their countries and their stability for granted.
“As was proven in Rwanda, all it takes is for a radio station to broadcast a few provocative and ethnocentric catch-phrases to alter completely the course of a nation’s history,” he noted.
President Akufo-Addo assured the Conference of his commitment to empowering the citizen, media and civil society, so all can play their part in realising the vision of building a progressive and prosperous Ghana.
“As President of Ghana, I assure you that the Ghanaian people will continue to exercise their right to free expression to the very end, because they were determined to build a free, open society with accountable governance, no matter the cost,” he added.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD