NEWS COMMENTARY ON GHANA’S 62ND INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY AND THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA IN THE NATION’S DEVELOPMENT.
Ghana has celebrated its 62nd Independence anniversary. A number of successes have been chalked up during the period. The country has come this far, perhaps not the best of feats by way of democracy, economy and social development. The media undoubtedly have played massive roles in propelling the nation into where it is today. Like the media around the globe, the Ghanaian media have been the reflection of society. It have been the major means or medium through which information is shared. It also provides the much-needed public sphere for national discourse, growth and development. The media in Ghana have been in the forefront in national development even before independence.
History has it that, the first President of Ghana Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, used the media to shape and stir up the people to fight for the liberation of the country from colonialism. Colonial Governors before Ghana’s independence, established newspapers whiles radio was also introduced on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of King George, Head of the British Empire for disseminating information to the people to persuade them to support their policies and programmes. Among other things, newspaper was also used to provide information to expatriate merchants and civil servants in the then colony and at the same time, also provided education to the populace in rural development activities.
Before independence, that is, in the heat of the struggle, Dr. Nkrumah took a bold step to establish the Accra Evening News, which was primarily used for the objectives of the struggle for independence with its focus on “self-government now”, unleashing intellectual attacks against colonial rule and demanding also the political rights for the populace. The post-independence era saw Dr. Nkrumah establishing strong media institutions including the Ministry of Information, Ghana News Agency and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, for use as a propaganda tool for national unity and development. He also established the Ghana Institute of Journalism in 1959 for the training of journalists in the country, the first of its kind on the African continent. He perceived media as a tool for the executive authority and power and therefore became very much interested in the use of these institutions including his personal Guinea Press, Limited.
The media in Ghana has been seen at independence as mouthpiece of all succeeding governments until recently with very little improvements along the line. The true freedom and extensive vibrancy of the media really occurred when in May 1994 the forcible closure and seizure of Radio Eye, which raised so much concern around the globe, compelled the then government to have a second look at media freedom. This paved the way for the flooding of radio stations in the country. Radio and Television since then have led the media onslaught against injustice, corruption, human rights abuses and also promoted education, motivation, entertainment and information to the citizenry.
The fourth republic in particular has recorded very healthy relationship between the media and the executive thus ensuring effective governance. It is during this period that past and current Presidents availed themselves to the entire nation, through the lenses of the media. In such a liberal democracy, the primary objective has been to continually lay bare government’s policies and programmes for scrutiny by providing the people with accurate and impartial information so that they can act on it accordingly.
The various media houses in Ghana are fighting against ‘galamsey’, corruption and other ills of society while promoting national development and also ensuring free and fair elections. By and large the media has performed its function with distinct but obviously there is more room for improvement. Some citizens often perceive the media as a bane to national development as it has to a large extent connived with authorities to cover wrong doing in society. Unnecessary sensationalism, fake news, strict professionalism and absolute adherence to the ethics of the profession must be seriously looked at and all errors corrected to make the Ghanaian media great and strong.
Long live the Ghanaian media, the oxygen of our democracy.
BY NANA SIFA TWUM, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT – LONDON- UK.