The Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, has charged journalists to act responsibly in their line of duty to deepen public trust and confidence in the media.
He said journalists had a key role to play in Ghana’s democratic dispensation and, therefore, they needed to make themselves relevant, adding: “We can only remain relevant when we are trusted by the people.”
“Whenever we break that trust and undermine that confidence, the people are likely to betray us, and that will be least. We will not be worth anything after that,” he said.
Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh gave the charge in Accra last Tuesday at the signing of a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) by the NMC and the National Communications Authority (NCA) with some stakeholders in the media to sanitise the airwaves pending the passage of the Broadcasting Bill.
Freedom and responsibilities
The chairman also reminded journalists and stakeholders that freedom of the media came with responsibilities, saying it was absolutely wrong for the media to act inappropriately under the pretext of that freedom.
“We should not be quick to quote article 21. Anyone of us who is ready to quote article 21 must equally be learned about article 41 because if you take 21 without 41, then you are rendering that freedom that has been given to you useless.
“It is very basic and if we want to be counted, not because others were but that they were journalists; if we want to have a place in the history of this country, then we must take personal responsibility for the things that we do,” the chairman said.
Articles 21 & 41
Article 21 of the 1992 Constitution, which is centered on general fundamental human rights of citizens, provides among things that there shall be "freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media.
Article 41, on the other hand, spells out the duties of citizens, indicating that the exercise and enjoyment of rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of duties.
It enjoins citizens, including the media, to "respect the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of others, and generally to refrain from doing acts detrimental to the welfare of other persons."
Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh further advised the media to police themselves by forestalling adverse commentaries about their activities, saying “that is the essence of a professional group”.
He added that the media needed to know what was wrong with themselves to take remedial action because “self-regulation is the most effective means of regulating”.
The chairman also implored journalists to stay resolute and remain committed to serving the interest of the people, instead of succumbing to pressure and influence from self-seeking elements.
“From today, we take a pledge that never again are we going to allow ourselves to be misused to undermine the interest of the very people whom we claim to be serving, and that we will make it our responsibility to protect the average person from misinformation because at the heart of it is the trust and confidence that the people will have in us.
“We at the NMC, together with the NCA, will at all times strive to ensure that the fundamental freedoms that have been enshrined in our Constitution are fulfilled, but we will not ignore the fact that we need to be responsible,” Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh said.