Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has categorically denied calling for the licensing of journalists in Ghana to ensure sanity in the profession, as reported in a section of the media. He was reported to have made the call at the launch of the GJA 70th anniversary in Accra on Tuesday, May 28, 2019.
However, when a delegation of the GJA paid a courtesy call on him at his residence in Accra to thank him for honouring its invitation to launch the Platinum Anniversary, Mr. Kufuor categorically denied making such statement.
“I was just explaining a point about how journalists should be circumspect in their work because of the influence they wield. I did not say journalists should be licensed,” he explained.
The Personal Assistant to the Former President, Dr. Adubofour, also said apart from the speech delivered by Mr Kufuor, there was no occasion – before, during and after the event – that he (Mr Kufuor) granted interview to any reporter or reporters to make such a call.
The GJA delegation that visited the Former President was made up of Affail Monney, President, Mrs. Linda Asante-Agyei, Vice President, Kofi Yeboah, General Secretary; Albert Kwabena Dwumfour, National Organising Secretary, Mrs. Audrey Dekalu, Treasurer, and Bright Blewu, a former General Secretary.
The denial by Former President Kufuor affirms a clarification made by the GJA earlier in media interviews that there was nowhere in the six-page and 2506-word speech of the ex-President that he made such a call for the licensing of journalists. That would have ran contrary to the honour conferred on him by the GJA as ‘Champion of Champions’ of press freedom in Ghana.
What the ex-president actually said, which the GJA wishes to reiterate for the avoidance of doubt, is captured in his speech as follows: “Ladies and Gentlemen, the challenge here is that because the practitioners of journalism are not enjoined to be licensed or regulated publicly like many of the other professions, they come to wield a lot of influence and power for shaping the minds of the populace without open and commensurate responsibility and accountability.
“Thus, some of your members become susceptible to use the airwaves and other media as tools and weapons to mislead, intimidate, defame, castigate, disrespect and even blackmail individuals and authority at times. Consequently, many a reputation of individuals and even security of nations have been ruined unjustly and irreparably. The cost can be untold and has contributed to the subversion of democracy and human rights in many parts of the world.”
The GJA advises journalists and media practitioners to be careful about what they report and endeavour to crosscheck their information at all times, especially whenever they are in doubt. Inaccurate reportage can harm media freedom, a cherished right we must guard with truth and accuracy. We need to be very circumspect in our reportage, particularly as we prepare for crucial elections in December this year and next year.
Finally, we urge media houses that published the ‘call for license’ story which misrepresented the comments made by the ex-president to take counsel from the wisdom he shared at the GJA 70th anniversary launch, thus: “However, if during your duties you get something wrong, please be bold and humble enough to accept your shortcomings and apologize for your misreporting. It makes you a more credible journalist, because to err is human.
“It would be arrogant on your part not to accept culpability in your proven misreporting. Such attitudes, my friends, dent the image of the entire profession and attract opprobrium, and might suggest rightly or wrongly, that your services may be for hire, and that there may be hidden agendas, other than objective journalism.”