Role of the media in pursuing social justice

Role of the media in pursuing social justice

By Cynthia Boateng

Recent happenings where journalists are arrested in an intimidating manner and others attacked without proper cause is no doubt a dent on the country’s democracy. It is gradually becoming impossible for the fourth estate to carry out its mandate without fear or favour. When this finally becomes a reality and the media are paralyzed, it will be impossible for the course of social justice to be pursued. February 20 each year gives the country an opportunity to ponder on the underlying principles for peaceful and prosperous coexistence for all nations around the world including Ghana, as the United Nations World Day of Social Justice is celebrated. This UN Declaration of social justice day reflects on the need for a strong social dimension to globalization in achieving improved and fair outcomes for all especially the implementation of the Decent Work Agenda at the country level. Social justice is justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. Therefore, the international community observes World Social Justice Day every year to call for the redress of injustices and inequalities from a social perspective within all nations.

Since charity begins at home, the UN is calling on Ghana to be reminded of the importance of human rights, dignity and equality which the media have been mandated to do and are expected to champion with every muscle as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution. The processes for distributing opportunities, freedoms and resources in Ghana have time and time again been proven to be unequal and unfair. There is Socioeconomic inequality, be it between genders, races, or classes and it is a clear case of an unjust society. The country is a classic example of a socially unjust country, never mind the celebratory pomposity of it being a democratic country. The inequality or lack of social justice is very visible on a daily basis and all it takes is a casual observation of life in the streets of Accra and in the lives of people in the rural communities to notice the vulnerability of a section of the population. Their situation makes them prone to sickness, unemployment, disabilities and loss of assets and sometimes unfair judgement in the court of law. Anytime one hears of strikes like in the case of UTAG, protests against policies such as the E-levy or children begging for alms on the street, there is no doubt that Ghana is far from resolving the plight of the people bordering on social injustice. How can Ghana enhance efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion, unemployment, gender inequity and justice for all? Top on the list must be respect for the media. There is no need to rant here about the role of the media and its impact on nation-building.

Just imagine a life without television, radio, newspapers or even the so-called social media and there will be enough evidence that the media is a powerful tool that should not be toiled with.

So, putting fear in the media for whatever reason, will only worsen the situation and hinder development since research on mass communication suggests that mass communication on public understanding of social justice issues can be enhanced by the appropriate use of the media. Without the media, social workers are unlikely to have much impact in public understanding of critical social justice issues and receive responses which can effectively influence policy formulation.

This is why it is crucial for the government and its institutions to build a healthy collaborative working relationship without abusing power.

Journalists, however, must not overlook the essential obligations of the noble profession engaged in gathering, editing and reporting news, especially to respect, defend freedoms and rights and above all to only report on facts which can be verified and not use unfair methods to obtain news, photographs or documents. It must be stated that, when it comes to the quest to achieve social justice, the elite need the media as much as the poor do. The media also need access to information to function effectively. So, the Government together with the media must promote equitable distribution of income and access to resources by providing opportunities for all. It will be a great foundation for a strong social justice system which will catapult the country to economic freedom. Maybe, pursuing social justice with a vibrant mass media could be the key to realizing a Ghana without aid as preached with futility and without substance.

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