By: Napoleon Ato Kittoe/www.africanakua.com, Ghana
Covid-19 and elections amid pandemic protocols, straightaway places emphasis on conveyor belts in political engagements. This also calls for a more educated electorate to be able to grasp messages on various media outlets. Local language communication, using the outlets, is also crucial.
Social media would be conduits for more latent and silent communication, with a measure of opportunity to estimate public interest in the scheme of things. A danger here are the falsehoods and the chicanery that finds a space on social media. This would require a strong online presence which bend backwards and one that hypes the truth over and above falsehoods. This platform is almost like the sea, endless in measure but right caveats could place curbs on possible overruns on conscientiousness.
If the media are so important then they must be most professional, abiding by the supreme court ruling of 1996, binding the state broadcaster to apply the equal opportunity doctrine in broadcasting, to all political contestants. The rest of the state media must do same. It is instructive, recent comments by GJA President urging journalists to eschew practicing journalism from the pockets of politicians.
Media efficiency requires ethical approach and informed interpretative mission by the scribblers. For instance some media organizations, in an effort to give authentic news on elections have also invited authorities like political scientists to help in analysis along the way. No journalist must represent unverified news about elections since the process is highly inflammable. Elections are potential powder kegs and the media would do well by stressing on national values as unity, patriotism and development as overarching undercurrents of the electoral process. If the eyeballs are so directed to media outlets at this time, at the expense of large political rallies, then the media must take advantage of the new normal, to secure corporate sponsorships and adverts in the political season. After all, it is all about eyeballs and marketing.
It came as a surprise to media houses once upon time, when Prof Kwame Karikari’s Media Foundation for West Africa revealed the tracks of media houses in their coverage of elections, during a post mortem analysis. The private media have the luxury to tilt their scales, but not the state owned media with constitutional obligation to do the right thing. It is indictment on any of them if they choose to go astray. The media must also collaborate with the NCCE and must mirror public education messages drafted by the NCCE.
We must also examine the role of Information Services Department, whether it must not take on additional responsibilities of not only being a mouthpiece of government but serving interests of all political stakeholders. For the sake of remote, rural communities without access to sophisticated media outlets, or requiring increased education, the complementary forces must be at play.
THE AUTHOR IS A SENIOR JOURNALIST WITH THE GHANAIAN STATE BROADCASTER, GTV.