"Polarisation of media erodes public confidence"
The programme Director for Media Foundation for West Africa, Mrs. Jeannette Quarcoopome, has said the polarization of the media along political lines during the 2008 elections have eroded the trust of the public in the profession.
She has, therefore, urged members of the inky fraternity to be guided always by the principles of objectivity, balance and accuracy in playing their key role at ensuring lasting democracy in the country.
Mrs. Quarcoopome stated this at a day’s workshop on post-elections review with media practitioners in Accra. The Workshop was organized by the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) to review the media’s role during the 2008 elections and fashion out a strategy to provide better coverage of the next elections.
She said non-adherence to the principle of accuracy, objectivity and balance deprived the public of a balanced picture of contesting parties and important issues raised during the election period. She said another dangerous thing done by a section of the media during the elections was the peddling of rumours, the use of defamatory language and inflammatory statements, which nearly undermined the security, and unity of the state.
She cited instances where some radio stations repeatedly broadcast rumours that helicopters were being used to steal ballot boxes, dead people were voting and some ballot boxes had been stuffed with ballot papers which all turned out not to be factual.
Mrs. Quarcoopome said the most dangerous aspect was that such media houses failed in their professional duty to cross-check such information but repeatedly announced them which heightened passions among the supporters of the various political parties.
She however, commended the media for providing adequate opportunity for debates and information about political parties for the electorate.
A former editor of the Ghanaian Times, Ms Ajoa Yeboah Afari, said despite the seeming saturation of political coverage during the election period, the media did not do enough to provide basic information on the process to the electorate.
“It is not enough to reduce electoral coverage to giving air time to serial callers, or newspapers space to political opponents to throw mud at each other. Surely, in our circumstances, voter education should be part of the media’s social responsibility,” she added.
She said if the media had done more in the area of voter education, the huge numbers of spoiled ballots during the election could have been reduced.
Source: Daily Graphic