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Talking heads on radio and tv should pay heed to President’s admonishing to focus on nation’s achievements


During his recent “Accounting to the Peoples Tour,” in the Ashanti region, President John Mahama took on the Ghanaian press. He admonished members of the fourth realm of the estate to jettison their tired, old and negative ways and adopt a new approach to reporting.

The emphasis, the President urged,  should be on positive happenings in the country. Highlighting the country’s negatives as some media houses are inclined to do, serves no useful purpose, Mr. Mahama added.

“Media organizations must restructure their programs to focus on achievements of government,” he pleaded.

To many Ghanaians especially to those who do not share the President’s political ideology, admonishing the media was a veiled attempt by Mr. Mahama at stifling dissent.

They argue that given the extensive browbeating and vilification he has taken in the media since his inauguration in 2012, Mr. Mahama was striking out at those who have made his life a living hell.

Additionally, they also point out that the press should not take directives from the government or else it loses its independence and ultimately its ability to criticize and turn the spotlight on official malfeasance and other forms of wrong doings.

But to many others, particularly to those in the President’s camp, his stern rebuke of the Ghanaian press was long overdue and much deserved.

They counter argue that the President’s words put a screeching halt to the continuous attacks on his person as evidenced by the truly awful words of Kojo Yankson of the Super Morning Show on Joy FM a fortnight ago, which sought to depict Mr. Mahama as a bad character.

The President, his supporters forcefully maintain, is not given enough credit for his work in revamping the country’s infrastructure; building schools, roads and bridges primarily because the media is in the pockets of his political opponents.

Criticizing the president’s policies, his supporters insist, is fair game, but taken to extremes, such criticisms contribute absolutely nothing to the debate on how best to move the nation forward given the trying economic times we are in.

As a reporter, I am duty bound to show solidarity with my colleagues. But at the same time I find it hard to take umbrage at the president’s remarks. Were the remarks made in good faith and calculated to spur reporters to better heights, to work hard and to portray our country in a positive light?

Or did the president’s remarks disguise his palpable anger at some radio talking heads for the incivility and prolonged tongue lashings he has taken over the years? I have no answers to these questions.

But there is one thing I know; if you embrace democracy as we have over the last twenty plus years, we must be prepared to face its ugly underbelly, its nasty boils and all.

Press freedom is a valued aspect of democracy we cherish. It strengthens democracy. It allows members of the press to write and broadcast anything they deem fit for public consumption no matter how abhorrent the content of the message may be.

Of course, some Ghanaian reporters have taken this freedom way too far as we have heard on the radio and on television in recent times. They will say and broadcast things that will get under the skin of government officials, make them angry and frequently tempt them to consider sanctions against media organizations that encourage such behavior. But overreaction is not the right course of action.

Yes, some talking heads on radio and television have exhibited behaviors that are unbecoming of professional journalists and rightly deserved to be strongly reprimanded.

Nonetheless, we are in a democracy, and the only way to fight yellow journalism and muck racking is to create opportunities for good and hardworking reporters who have the nation’s interests at heart.

Let’s us remember that the Ghanaian media is the most dynamic and vibrant in the West African region. Let’s maintain this hard-earned reputation.


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