President Akufo-Addo’s Encounter With The Media

NEWS COMMENTARY ON PRESIDENT AKUFO-ADDO’S ENCOUNTER WITH THE MEDIA
A former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Clement Atlee once noted quote: “Democracy means government by discussion, but it is only effective if you can stop people talking.”Unquote. Indeed getting people to have access to first hand national information about matters affecting them to ensure effective and fruitful public discourse is arguably a rich recipe for good governance. President Akufo-Addo’s initiative to have encounters with the media at least twice a year, is laudable. Availing himself to the entire nation, through the lenses of the media, exhibits the genuine exposition of the tenets of his government which are accountability, transparency, and responsiveness. Coming at the end of the first half of the first term of his Presidency, the media Encounter was crucial.
The President, has hugely acknowledged the importance of the media in the democratic dispensation. Truly, if the government is able to control all the information regarding its own actions, then it could most certainly going to effectively engage the populace in national discourse pragmatically and will also escape most criticisms as a result of misinformation and non-information.
The event was also to afford the President to come back to the people and share certain basic information that are of much concern to the development of the nation and get feedback on his administration. This is why the importance of the media in governance cannot be under-estimated. In such a liberal democracy, the primary objective must and has been to continually lay bear government’s policies and programmes for scrutiny by providing the people with accurate and impartial information so that they can act on it accordingly. It was hugely expected that new information in relations to governance and politics in general was going to be dropped, but out of the nearly 40 minutes delivery before the Question Time, the President provided virtually nothing new. It would have been better if the organisers had given the President a few minutes for his opening speech, so the journalist could get more time to asked more questions.
This is because, the President has called on the citizenry to be citizens rather than spectators and this is one of the surest means of getting to hear the concerns of Ghanaians through the media. The media today does not just report the news but also represents the views of society. Questions raised at the forum truly represent the larger views of the citizenry. Frankly speaking, a few of the questions were unnecessary and not probing enough. Some of them were also not strong enough for the President as they clearly lacked substance.
For this reason we must not loose sight of the fact that journalists are ideological beings, asking questions based on their individual ideologies and interests. Some very pertinent matters on national development were raised during the encounter such as National Security, Corruption, International Relations, the Economy, Sports, Jobs, among others. These are all of special interest to the government, the media and the people at large. The event for media practitioners across Ghana is a good sign of representation of the people but surely there is more room for improvement.
For instance, the programme could be decentralised by zoning the country into three to cover as many as possible media practitioners and also to cover local issues. It is hoped that future encounters will involve much more wider representation and enough time allocated for questions and answers.
As the forth arm of government, the media in Ghana today has moved from just being an informer to being an integral part of our daily lives. By support and encouragement as well as the provision of the necessary needs such as the repealing of the criminal libel law which was spearheaded by the President when he was the Attorney general of the country, the media is now seen as matured and a more responsible.
The present media revolution has helped people in making informed decisions, and this has led to the beginning of a new democratic era. It is said that a democracy without media is like a vehicle without wheels. As quoted by President Akufo-Addo during the first media encounter last July, an American founding member and a one time President of the USA, Thomas Jefferson once said; quote “The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and if it is left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”Unquote.
The Media plays a crucial role in ensuring a vibrant democracy, which in turn results in national development. Indeed it is the pillar of every democracy. The Media provides the much-needed impetus of social, political and economic awareness. In effect it is equated to the mirror, which portrays vividly the picture of the society. The media is powerful, so is government and the two joining hands together in the interest of the people, democracy will trumph and national aspirations will be reached.
BY NANA SIFA TWUM, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT – LONDON- UK.

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