The Head of the Department of Communication Studies, Dr. Eric Opoku Mensah, has charged journalists and media practitioners to adhere to professional ethical standards in order to justify the status of the media as the fourth arm of government.
According to him, without professionalism, journalists lose their claim on the right to be watchdogs of government and society.
Dr. Mensah said this at the commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the relocation of ATL FM from Atlantic Hall to the Campus Broadcasting Services (CBS) edifice located behind Valco Hall.
The anniversary was on the theme “Maintaining Professional Standards in Journalism – the Role of the Journalist”. He noted that the hard work and the dedication to professionalism and ethical standards exhibited by the forebearers of media work and journalism in Ghana had made the profession so attractive off late.
The Head of the Department said that the forebearers of media work who fought for press freedom and independence suffered decades of persecution, made sacrifices by upholding the integrity of the profession through objectivity, fairness, truth and accuracy. However, he said the current crop of journalists had indulged in irresponsible journalism by providing political actors the opportunity to use their media to spew invectives and vituperative comments.
Dr. Mensah noted that some media outlets, especially the print, had also exhibited unprofessionalism as they go about publishing falsehood and blatantly refusing to publish rejoinders, even when their stories were purely baseless. Consequently, he mentioned interference of media owners in media production, poor working conditions of journalists, upsurge of unaccredited media training institutions as the major causes of irresponsible journalism in the country.
Dr. Mensah asked journalists to rise to the occasion and embrace ethical principles and codes of the noble profession so as to maintain the high standard of professionalism within media practice.
“Journalists must revisit the basic principles of truth, accuracy, fairness and objectivity which are the bedrock of journalism and foundation upon which the media in Ghana has built a positive image for itself,” he said.
Among others, he called on local newscasters to refrain from the use of derogatory remarks and unsolicited humour during news presentations,stressing that "News is not a comedy show and thus its products should not be overly reduced to that (embellishment).” He indicated that the media had a responsibility to empower their discerning listeners through comprehensive, factual, balanced and relevant information to enable them to make informed choices.
Dr. Mensah used the occasion to pay glowing tribute to CBS for maintaining professional standards and called on staff of the station to be guided by the professionalism that had characterised ATL FM.
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Prof. G.K.T Oduro, who chaired the programme, reminded the media to play their watch dog roles efficiently, to provide voice for the voiceless. He called on journalists not to allow themselves to be influenced by politicians to set the agenda for the truth. He charged the media to place the interest of the nation first above their parochial interest and challenged them to build national character to whip up the interest of the youth into volunteerism and patriotism.
To achieve that, Prof. Oduro said the professional role of the media was key to inculcate the virtues of punctuality, volunteerism and patriotism into Ghanaians, especially the youth.
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor, on behalf of University Management, singled out Hon. Totobi Kwakye, a former Minister of Information, Prof. D.D Kuupole, the immediate former Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Emmanuel Adow-Obeng, a former Vice-Chancellor; Mr. Edwin Asamoah, a former General Manager of ATL FM, Prof. Kwadwo Opoku- Agyemang and Mr. Kwabena Antwi-Konadu, the Station Manager of ATL FM, for their immense contributions towards the establishment and growth of the radio station.
He gave the assurance that Management of the University would support ATL FM to attain greater heights.
For his part, the Station Manager, Mr. Kwabena Antwi-Konadu, briefed the audience on the history of ATL FM and expressed gratitude to University Management for its relentless support for the station, which was established 28 years ago.
As part of activities marking the anniversary, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, who was assisted by some staff members and invited guests, cut a three-tier cake to commemorate the event, which was held at the premises of CBS.