The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says critiquing the work of the media can in no way be described as “an attack on media freedom.”
Speaking at the African Journalists’ Leaders Conference on Tuesday, 1st June 2021, President Akufo-Addo insisted that attacks on journalists, no matter where in the world they take place, must be roundly condemned by all.
However, according to the President, “there seems to be an emerging narrative, which is being proffered by some in Ghana, that critiquing the work of a journalist constitutes an attack on media freedom. That certainly cannot be described as an attack on media freedom.”
He continued: “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.”
The President also urged the Journalists’ Leaders Conference to use the event to ensure that misinformation campaigns and fake news, which are sometimes propagated media personnel, are addressed.
“The tendency to report on only one side of a story, and pass judgment on it, without wanting to learn or give a fair amount of 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 added.
The President, who asserted that the media possessed immeasurable power, appealed to them to not sacrifice their integrity and the future of society on the altar of an instant scoop.
The Rwandan genocide in 1994, he said, probably presents 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 fueling the genocidal atrocities in which eight hundred thousand (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 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 citizens, media and civil society, so all can play their part in realising his administration’s 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 of their determination to build a free, open society with accountable governance, no matter the cost,” he added.