General News of Wednesday, 15 March 2017
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has launched its revised Code of Ethics meant to ensure that members adhere to the highest ethical standards, professional competence, and good behaviour in carrying out their duties.
It provides a frame of reference to the National Executive, the Ethics and Disciplinary Council, and members of the Association when it becomes necessary to initiate disciplinary action against any member who flouts any article of the code.
The new GJA Code of Ethics is a ready guide that is applicable to all categories of journalists working with newspapers, radio, and television, cross media/multimedia, social media or those working as photo-journalists, cartoonists, and animation specialists.
The objective of the revised Code of Ethics is to take cognisance of all the ethical breaches that have been identified in the practice of journalism in the country.
It would be recalled that in 1994, the GJA developed and adopted its Code of Ethics which has served the Association well through the period.
However, with the proliferation of media types, it had become necessary to revise the code to meet new challenges that have emerged in the intervening years.
The challenges include the impact of media pluralism and diversity, the emergence of social media and the sheer numbers of radio and television stations across the country.
The panel, who put together the GJA revised Code of Ethics, are: Dr Kweku Rockson, Consultant and Team Leader; Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, an accomplished Ethicist and Columnist; Mrs Gina Blay, a Publisher; Mr Kwame Ahiabenu, a New Media Expert and Teacher; Mr Fortune Alimi, Editor of a leading private newspaper; and Dr Doris Yaa Dartey, a media trainer.
Launching the new code of ethics Minister of Information, Mr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, challenged media practitioners to widen their scope of knowledge to enable them make informed contributions to the development of Ghana.
He noted that knowledge acquisition on the part of journalists is non-negotiable.
He noted that a society without ethics is not worth its sort, stressing that ethics distinguishes between the human race and others.
He said the new code of ethics must serve as a launching pad to propel the journalism profession in the country into a better phase.
He said any association which had no ethics was not worth joining; saying; “it is our ethics that give us a sense of humanity’.
Mr Abdul-Hamid, himself a trained journalist, described the journalism profession as the best profession in the whole world, adding that journalism was essential for any democracy to succeed.
GJA President, Mr Affail Monney, said the proliferation of media houses in the country means there is an increase in the number of journalists and which in turn increases the ethical challenges.
He urged journalists to regard the code as their professional Bibles and Qurans, declaring that; “devoid of any campaign drive, the new code is one of the legacies we bequeath to the media fraternity”.
For his part, Chairman of the National Media Commission, Nana Gyan-Apenteng, congratulated the GJA for having the courage to review its code at a time when, for a complex number of reasons, ethics in journalism faces its biggest challenge.
He noted that new forms of technology, changes in society and social behavior have challenged all the basic assumptions of journalism, especially the hierarchies of control and command that they grew up with in the newsroom.
Gyan-Apenteng added that today citizen journalism, which includes the ideas of one person one camera, has created new opportunities for gathering and disseminating information and with those come new and, sometimes, very difficult challenges.
He said the rise of social media, in some people’s eye has made obsolete and redundant the very idea of codes, because if everyone can provide information as and how it suits them and disseminate to a worldwide audience at the click of a button, who is going to enforce a code of ethics?
“Journalism is not about who can shout loudest or whose voice we hear first. It’s about truth seeking, and so is the law. Therefore, respect for law and ethics is the mark of professionalism”.
He called on the GJA to organise a massive public education process immediately after launching the code.
He added that while a rolling stone gathers no moss, a pile of ethical codes stuck in a corner gathers too much dust.
Mr Daniel Fennel, the Public Affairs Officer of the United States Embassy, urged journalists to continue to be honest, accurate and fair in their reportage.
He said Ghana’s credentials as the beacon of democracy in Africa would partly be attributed to its free and vibrant media.
Dr Kweku Rockson said the revised Code encompassed all challenges across the traditional, new media, social media and across media as far as news gathering, processing and dissemination were concern.
“It is our considered view that this effort will inevitably promote accountability,” he said.
Dr Lawrence Tetteh, an International Evangelist, said: “Anybody who lives without ethics has no future.”