A former Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, GBC, Professor Kwame Karikari has observed with admiration the ability of the State-Owned Media to maintain high professional standards in the face of media pluralism in Ghana.
He has however called on GBC to assert its Constitutional mandate to create more space for divergent and critical opinions on matters of public interest. Prof. Karikari made the call during the 2021 MTN Bright Conversation series hosted in Accra.
Professor Kwame Karikari is among prominent Ghanaian media personalities to use the MTN Bright Conversation series organized through Zoom to discuss issues affecting national socio-economic development particularly the media.
Among those who have used the platform to speak to media development in Ghana are a former NMC Chairman, Nana Kwasi Gyan Apenteng; and Dr Joyce Aryee, CEO of Salt and Light Ministries.
Professor Kwame Karikari is a renowned media freedom advocate who founded the Media Foundation for West Africa and had also previously worked with the Graphic Communications Group Limited as well as being a Lecturer in Communication Studies at the University of Ghana.
He spoke on the topic “Promoting Professionalism in the Era of Social Media and Citizen Journalism”.
Touching on professionalism within the media space in Ghana today, Prof. Karikari commended the State-Owned Media outlet for maintaining a high level of professionalism despite the proliferation of traditional media organizations.
He observed that they have ensured adequate accuracy and informed the public without biases. Prof. Karikari however advised that just as had been assigned by the 1992 Constitution, they must create room for divergent and critical views on matters of national interest and not create an impression that they exist to promote and project only the government of the day. He noted that professionalism does not mean the State Media should not be critical on national issues or hold duty bearers accountable.
Prof. Karikari cautioned that even though some of the Private Media outlets are doing very well by also professionally discharging their duties, the ownership structures that involved known partisan politicians and affiliation with some of the political parties is proving to be negatively affecting professionalism.
Similarly, Prof. Karikari expressed worry that the quality of some of the persons recruited by media owners, especially those without any previous background in media work, has become an issue of concern, since the performance of such media personnel is undermining professionalism. In general, however, Prof. Karikari gave thumbs up to the traditional media’s performance so far.
‘’Ghanaian media have not done anything much to undermine national peace, cohesion and unity by refraining from tendencies that bother on ethnicity, political upheaval among others things. They have as well helped to advance national development through social mobilization during emergencies such as the COVID-19 fight What they have so far fallen short is advancing financial and economic literacy and inclusion,’’ Professor Karikari stated.
Again, the traditional media have in totality, helped national development through social mobilization in times of need such as during national emergencies and the COVID-19 fight.
Touching on the surge in social media in the country, Prof. Karikari was emphatic in his observation over the years that despite the proliferation of digital media giving rise to citizen journalism, the traditional media have held their own against the negative tendencies associated with social media.