By: Rita Kafui Nedjoh | Voltaonlinegh |
The Press in the Volta Region has joined thousands of media practitioners across the world to commemorate the 2019 Press Freedom Day in the capital, Ho
The celebration on Friday which started with a route march from the forecourt of regional office of the Ghana News Agency through the principal streets of Ho with journalists from Volta/Oti holding placards with inscriptions regarding freedom for the press, had the regional minister, Dr. Archibald Letsa and his deputy, Rev. Johnson Avuletey, MCE for Ho, Mr. Nelson Akorli, heads of departments, and security agencies in attendance.
A symposium was later held under the theme, “Security-Media Relation and Election 2020” at the Volta Press Centre.
In a welcome address, Chairman of Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Volta Region chapter, A.B. Kafui Kanyi noted that the media in the region was celebrating the Day to look at the relationship between the media and the security in the region and the election 2020 and to evaluate the freedom of the press in the region, taking stock of their performances in the past year.
He commended stakeholders for their role which made the region record just few cases of attack on journalists in the region, urging that all hands be put on deck to avoid such attacks in the future.
He also commended individuals and partners who supported in diverse ways towards the construction of the only regional press centre in the country, Volta Press Centre.
Speaking at the symposium, a seasoned journalist, Sepenyo Dzokoto said the media served as a medium through which the political parties communicated their messages to the public and that practitioners “go through a lot in the course disseminating information to the public.”
Mr. Dzokoto said, journalists only “report messages from political parties to the public in such a way that they do not libel or slander anybody” and that they “go by the media laws in the course of performing their duty and sometimes political parties step on toes in their discussions in the media but we are here as the media to caution them.”
The second Lt. of the military at the 66 Artillery Regiment, Lt. Jones Amoaku in his submission, cautioned journalists to be professional in performing their duties saying, the media sometimes reported information to the public which should have been left in the hands of the security to handle to a certain level before it got to the public domain, thus, making the work of the security difficult.
On elections, Lt. Amoaku said there were rules which restricted the media from going beyond some areas to take coverage and had security personnel stationed at such areas to ensure that the media did not go beyond the demarcations but some journalists failed to observe these restrictions in the name of “I’m doing my work” hence, the misunderstanding between the security and the media.
He admitted that it was not possible for the security to protect a journalist who was trying to take coverage even when gunshots were being heard with fire arms flying in the air.
He therefore advised that “looking forward to election 2020, let’s all be in our lane in order to make the work easy for all of us because your life is as important as mine.”
Volta Regional Police Commander, DCOP Oduro Kwarteng cautioned journalists to be circumspect in reporting on election, crime and other cases in order not to incite the public against the police adding, the public interest must be taken seriously in reporting any story to the public.
He assured journalists that the security agencies and the media “are friends” and would continue to be friends and that the security of the media in the region was guaranteed.
Representatives of the two main political parties, National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) commended the media in the Volta Region for the level of professionalism they always exhibited during elections particularly in the 2016 general elections and in the Oti Region referendum.
They charged the journalists to be cautious in their reportage in the upcoming elections so as not to provoke the public to cause mayhem in the region and the country as a whole while calling on the security agencies to protect the media in the cause of performing their duties without any intimidation.