Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, Dean of School of Information and Communication Studies, at the University of Ghana has raised issues with the practice of media outlets paid by political parties to do live broadcasts of their events.
She also raised issues with media outlets engaging in advertorial reporting for political parties to represent as a news report.
Prof. Gadzekpo said such a practice was not only unethical but a practice that also dissuaded the voter, who might not know it was advertorial reporting.
Prof Gadzekpo raised the issue while making a presentation on the topic: “Journalism: Standards, Best Practices, Handling Misreporting,” through a video link to journalists at a two-day media literacy, election reporting workshop on election reporting and safety of journalists, which ended in Tamale on Friday.
The workshop was to train and further build the capacity of journalists to promote media professionalism and safety at all times during this year’s elections.
It was jointly organised by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and the Media Foundation for West Africa with support from the United States Agency for International Development.
About 45 journalists from the Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East, and Upper West Regions attended the workshop.
“The practice of political parties paying media outlets to do live broadcasts of their events is not new but it is expected to go a notch higher as the country enters the electioneering season for the December elections.”
“This raises concerns of broadcasting unsubstantiated information, which the voter would consider as credible news because of the particular media outlet that broadcasts it.
She argued that this practice allowed the political parties or politicians to ride on the back of the credibility of media outlets or journalists to push their messages across where in actual sense, the voter would have treated such messages differently if he or she had known that it was not an independent reporting.
Prof Gadzekpo also delved into whether or not journalists should report anything said by politicians, saying, “it is not enough to say, Yes, this person says this, so I must report it” urging journalists to sieve the chaff from the story.
Dr Etse Sikanku, a Political Communication Analyst and Executive Director of the Center for Public Discourse Analysis, who also made his presentation through a video link, advocated a newsroom culture that upholds professionalism, respect for ethics as well as a frown on hate speech and unsubstantiated allegations to help deepen the country’s democracy.
Mr Balaarah Abdulai, Programme Officer at CDD-Ghana said the stakes were high in this year’s elections, hence, the need for high standards in media practice to ensure professionalism whilst deepening the country’s democracy.