False publications, misinformation undermining our democracy – Oppong Nkrumah

Kojo Oppong Nkrumah

Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Minister of Information, has expressed worry about the rising spate of false publications and misinformation within the Ghanaian media landscape.

According to him, the phenomenon was gradually undermining the democracy of the country and eroding the gains made over the years.

The Minister was speaking at the launch of a website for the Information Services Department (ISD) of the Ministry of Information, in Accra, on Monday.

Mr Nkrumah said, with a significant section of the Ghanaian population now relying on online platforms and other social media platforms for information, some unscrupulous persons had resulted to using those channels to propagate falsehood and misinformation.

“This phenomenon is gradually undermining our democracy,” he stated.

The website (www.ghanatoday.gov.gh) aims at providing authentic and credible information, especially on government projects to combat misinformation.

Mr Nkrumah said the rollout of the website would, therefore, aid the Department in the fight against misinformation by providing direct information from Ministries, Departments and Agencies about the works of Government and becoming a repository of all happenings in government.

He said, over the years, the ISD had played critical role in the sensitisation of the public on major issues of national interest, including the construction of the Akosombo dam; re-introduction of the 17 per cent VAT after a previous failed attempt; introduction of the new Ghana cedi in 2007 and most recently, the creation of the six new regions and the E-Levy.

Those, he said, the Department had done through the use of various Public Education Campaign strategies and the deployment of Public Relations professionals and Regional and District Information Officers to MMDAS and MDAs.

However, he noted that, the Department had lost some steam in recent years, mostly due to the inability of successive administrations to equip it as well as keep up with the ever-changing media landscape and the advancement in technology.

He indicated that the launch of the website formed an integral part of the re-organisation and retooling programme of the Department, aimed at equipping the it to serve more audiences with its work even as the time and media consumption patterns changed.  

“It will provide facts about Government projects and programmes, full texts of all speeches by heads of MDAs, official communications and publications, policies and programme documents to reduce the level of misrepresentations and sometimes outright misinformation online,” he added.

He urged the staff to work quickly and accurately to ensure that the citizenry was reached with all the facts and the necessary documentation as soon as possible.

Mr Owusu-Amoah, Acting Chief Information Officer, ISD, indicated that, the advancement of technology and media pluralism had made it virtually impossible to control information anymore.

That, he said, made the website more relevant as it would help the Department to manage misinformation, falsehood and reduce their negative impacts.

Mrs Adiza Ofori-Adu, Head, Media Division, ISD, said the website would enrich dissemination of information on government’s projects and urged media houses to depend on it for authentic stories.

The ISD was established in the latter part of 1939, (84 years ago), as a branch of the Colonial Government Secretariat dedicated to conveying news on the second World War to the people of the then Gold Coast through weekly journal.

Source: GNA

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