15 July 2016

Aning chides politicians for crude, violent rhetoric

AningA Security expert with the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Centre has bemoaned what he says is the “crude violent rhetoric” which regrettably has gotten political activists closer to political power.

Dr Kwasi Aning said such violent and intemperate language have only served to increase tension in the country.

Speaking at a workshop organised for media personnel ahead of election 2016, the security expert said the continuous violent rhetoric that finds space and expression in the country’s media tend to make citizens insecure.

The theme for the workshop is: “Towards a peaceful elections: Reporting on elections and security in 2016.”

Dr Kwasi Aning cited a plethora of jaw dropping headlines in the media attributed to public officials, ministers of state, past and present, presidential candidates and wondered how such persons rose to such positions of responsibility given the comments they have made and continue to make.

He said politicians have four tongues- the one they use at a public gathering; the one they fall on when they meet party faithful at an enclosed space; the one they use during the quiet periods and the one they use when they are overcome by some spirit on a campaign platform.

He said some of these tongues are acidic and could plunge the country into chaos.

Dr Aning was quick to point out that most of these comments have been made in the media which makes media practitioners active participants or passive observers in the crude usage of language.

How do we navigate the nexus between free speech and hate speech? he asked and challenged the media to be wary of the stories they give publicity to and the potential for unintended impact the stories may have.

He expressed regrets that some innocuous stories of violence are sometimes treated sensationally by the media which creates the impression that the whole country is at war.

He cited the fulani menace and the recent violence in the Ashanti Region which claimed one life as examples of how the media tend to create fear and panic with its reportage.

He said given the regional security dynamics, the media should be wary of the stories they give attention to and how they treat those stories.

Dr Aning advised media personnel to have an “election risk profile” which will inform them of the stories that could contribute to instability, fear and insecurity in the country.

The Workshop was opened by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Mrs Charlotte Osei who was unimpressed with what she said are attempts by some media and their political conspirators to run her and the Commission down.

She said a “discredited EC is recipe for disaster.”

The workshop was also attended by editors and senior journalists, security personnel as well as Chairman of the National Media Commission and presidents of the Ghana Journalists Association and Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association.

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