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Press Freedom: "I Wouldn’t Say No To Doing Our Own Index In Ghana" – Braimah

Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Sulemana Braimah has said even though he will not dismiss the idea of Ghana doing its own press freedom ranking, the solution to the issues that led to the abysmal performance in the latest rankings, is not to conduct domestic ratings.

It his view that Ghana corrects the defects that resulted in the poor performance.

Speaking in interview with TV3 after appearing on the Key Points on Saturday May 7, Mr Braimah said “Even as I wouldn’t say no to doing domestic index, it is still important that we correct whatever we identify not to be right. “We were Number One in 2018, why didn’t people talk about doing our local index? When we were Number Three in 2019, 2020 and 2021, why didn’t we have conversations about doing our own indexes? I don’t think that the solution to where we find ourselves is to say, we should do our own index. So we do our own index and say what, that we are number one in Africa?”

His comments come after broadcaster Paul Adom Otchere suggested that Ghana must develop its own press freedom ranking in order to situate the findings within the right context.

Mr Adom Otchere said he was unable to accept that journalists in Burkina Faso under a military junta are freer in practicing their profession more than their colleagues in democratic Ghana as captured in the latest press freedom ranking.

Ghana performed poorly in the latest press freedom ranking, dropping 30 places from 2021 to rank 60th on World Press Freedom Index 2022 with a score of 67.43.

The report cited government’s intolerance, a situation that forced journalists to engage in heavy self-censorship in the line with their work.

“Although the country is considered a regional leader in democratic stability, journalists have experienced growing pressures in recent years. To protect their jobs and their security, they increasingly resort to self-censorship, as the government shows itself intolerant of criticism,” the World Press Freedom indicated in its latest ranking released May 3,2022.

It added: “The 2019 information access law authorises journalists to demand information of national interest. However, a clause in the law allows a fee to be charged if the information requested is in a language other than English – a provision used to deny journalists’ access to the information they seek”

“In addition, one third of media outlets are owned by politicians or by people tied to the top political parties. The content they produce is largely partisan. In Ghana, most media outlets face financial problems, reflected in low salaries and poor working conditions for journalists. Frequently, new newspapers are launched only to fold in a few months, due to inability to meet production costs"

“State-owned media, for their part, benefit from government advertising contracts and payment for publishing news items. Government advertising is awarded through a non-transparent and inequitable process”.

Suggesting wayforward for Ghana with respect to the poor performance while speaking on the Key Points on TV3 Saturday May 7 with host Dzifa Bampoh, Mr Adom Othcrere who is also Board Chairman of the Ghana Airports Company Limited said ” the way forward is what Gyan Apenteng (Former Chairman of the National Media Commission) has said, we have to develop our own index.

We will be able to put in these contest that give us the real fee.

“You are telling us that Burkina Faso journalists under military junta are freest than Ghanaian journalists? The complaints must be reduced to own one context.”

He further said media houses must find a way of generating revenue without having to rely on government advertisement.

The former Board member of the National Communications Authority (NCA) argued in favour of Ghana embracing digital migration, a system he believes is the potent way for media houses to generate revenue.

The broadcaster said “My reactions to the report on the economics of it, I was very surprised but when I looked at the criteria I was excited, I was no longer surprised because this point about independent mechanisms for media today, I have been talking about it forever.

“That is the beginning and end of independent media in the modern world. Independent media right now is economics, that is fundamental. Any media you see across the world that you can think if as independent, I will give an example of the relationship between Donald Trump, the former US President and the CNN over that period and the exchanges they had.

“The reason why CNN was able to survive that situation is that they have independent way of generating revenue their own money. I have attended many digital migration conferences and the real reason for the American’s insistence that this must happen globally is towards independent media.”

Story by: Laud Nartey



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