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21 July 2016

Media owners urged to spearhead efforts to check ethical violations

MediaA lecturer at the School of Communications Studies, University of Ghana, Dr Etse Sikanku, wants media owners to play a key role in efforts to sanitise Ghana’s media landscape.

According to him, many of the ethical violations that dominate the media could have been avoided if media owners conduct thorough background checks on journalists before employing them.

“The interview process should make sure that it is able to determine any particular hazard which that particular journalist might have in terms of the ethical standards in their reporting process,” he admonished.

He was speaking on PM Express on the Joy News channel on Multi TV, Wednesday.

He said the interview process  must include test scenarios and role plays aimed at assessing how the journalists would respond before they are given the platform to broadcast.

Dr Sikanku’s comments follow reports of increasing ethical violations in the media, a situation that has been identified as a threat to Ghana’s democracy, especially as this year’s crucial general elections approach.

A recent report by media watchdog, Media Foundation of West Africa (MFWA) suggests persistence of abusive language and many ethical violations especially by privately owned media houses.

Contributing via phone on PM Express, Mr Sikanku identified “blatant misrepresentation of issues, mediocrity and substandard reporting” as issues in privately owned media platforms that must be tackled with utmost urgency.

“Media houses in their attempt to become popular and known always tend to go for things that are just extreme,” he told show host, Nana Ansah Kwao IV.

A media analyst, Dr Messan Mawugbe, also stressed the need for urgent checks on abuses in the media, warning it could have serious repercussion if it persist.

“The extent of abuse, especially in an election year, if not discussed critically and comprehensively could create spillover effects”, he said.

He wants media practitioners to report on issues objectively, but with a firm resolve to preserve and promote national and cultural values.

“You cannot have any professional journalistic thoughts if it doesn’t rest on the values that hold the society together,” he said.

Mr Mawugbe, who is Founder of the Centre for Media Analysis,  an independent media research institution, also said media houses must intensify training of journalists to align them with the editorial policies of media organistions.

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