The former President, John Dramani Mahama has asked President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to create an atmosphere that is more tolerant of criticism and devoid of intimidation for the media.
In a social media post to mark the World Press Freedom Day,;he urged the President to create this atmosphere to enable the media and other stakeholders express themselves freely.
“I want to encourage President Nana Akufo-Addo and his close associates to seize the occasion;to create an atmosphere that is more tolerant of criticism and devoid of intimidation in order for the media,;CSOs and individuals to freely express themselves and contribute to national discourse.”John Mahama
Press freedom in Ghana has come under the spotlight in recent times. The latest concern raised by statesman Mr. Sam Jonah where he described Ghana’s media landscape as one that is polarized and partisan.
He intimated that there is not much freedom and truth due to the political ownership and affiliations with some of these media houses.
Mr Jonah argued that the media has been silenced and the courage to stand up for the truth and the determination to uphold the common good is lost.
Celebrating fundamentals of press freedom
The world is today, May 3, 2021, marking World Press Freedom Day to celebrate the fundamental principles of Press Freedom,;to evaluate press freedom around the world and to defend the media from attacks on their independence. The day is also used to pay tribute to journalists;for their efforts and struggle in the exercise of their profession.
UNESCO Director General, Audrey Azulay in her message stated that the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, “Information as a Public Good”, underlines the indisputable importance of verified and reliable information. She said it also “calls attention to the essential role of free and professional journalists in producing;and disseminating this information, by tackling misinformation and other harmful content.”
According to UNESCO, the organization that declared this year’s celebration with the theme “Information as a Public Good” suggests the theme serves as a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information as a public good, and exploring what can be done in the production, distribution and reception of content to strengthen journalism.
The celebration is also to advance transparency and empowerment while leaving no one behind.
“The theme is of urgent relevance to all countries across the world. It recognizes the changing communications system that is impacting on our health, our human rights, democracies and sustainable development.”UNESCO
Importance of accessing information demonstrated through COVID-19
According to UNESCO the importance of freely accessing reliable information, particularly through journalism, has been demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It said the COVID-19 crisis has placed journalists and quality journalism and public interest media at the center of the global discourse.
“Reporting on the crisis, through initiatives such as the popularization of scientific facts,;the compilation and frequent updating of data, fact-checking or monitoring spending, has proved vital. Around the world the covid-19 pandemic has forced the closure of media houses around the world,;reporters have been harassed and attacked for their reporting on the handling of the pandemic,;and the public has struggled to discern verified information from the falsehoods that have flooded the internet.”UNESCO
UNESCO then called on all partners, to renew their commitment to the fundamental right to freedom of expression,;to defend media workers, and to ensure that information remains a public good.