The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has charged media personnel in Ghana to be accurate, balance and comprehensive in their reportage, especially on matters pertaining to Parliament.
He pointed out that in as much as the media contributes immensely to Ghana’s socio political climate, there are many times when reports are mainly sensational and frothy. “It appears that some of you are too quick to go to press and thus the substance or the meat of the matter is rather not dealt with but subsumed.”
According to him, journalists owe this nation a sacred trust and duty of accurate, balance and comprehensive and not melodramatic reportage.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of a one day introductory capacity training workshop for selected media personnel with key interest in parliamentary and governance reporting, Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, pointed out that some sectors of the Ghanaian society may survive on sensationalism but not so for Parliament.
“As trained Ladies and gentlemen and of the media, you must be a cut above your peers. We cannot stop the noise out there but you can. By putting out professional news reports and articles,” he charged.
He noted that the importance of the media in a representative democracy such as Ghana is twofold: it informs the citizenry and also serves as a feedback loop. “We will collaborate efficiently in order to facilitate the dissemination of strategic information, programmes, activities and reports to all our stakeholders and also act as a conduit for feedback. We will work with the media to reach the public, and engage the public in direct communication through all sorts of traditional and social media channels”.
The Minister commended the Parliamentary Training Institute (PTI), the young and energetic men of Parliamentary News Africa (PN Africa) and the able staff of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA) for this collaboration.
“We have identified our commonalities and pooled our resources to enhance and deepen the role of Parliament in our polity. This is the way to go”.
“In collaboration with our current and future partners, we are developing syllabi to equip traditional and Social Media in their coverage and reportage of Parliament and the activities of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs. We will endeavour to have continuous professional development for a select Media Team who will be equipped to cover, report and promote the work of Parliament.
A successful partnership between us and you Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, means we can collaborate to affect the nation’s consciousness and contribute to the evolution of our democracy quicker with far reaching impact on the fortunes of our dear Nation,” he pledged.
The capacity training workshop was organized by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA), Parliamentary Training Institute (PTI) and the Parliamentary News Africa (PN Africa) under the theme: “Building Media capacity for effective oversight of Parliament”.
The capacity building program was to build and solidify the understanding of participants on parliamentary proceedings, appreciating all the technicalities in parliamentary reporting; help them to understand and navigate the thin line between media freedom and the breech of parliamentary privileges; and how to make parliamentary reporting relevant to Ghanaians in promoting citizens participation in governance.
Participants were encouraged to specialize and pursue stories beyond the corridors of parliament into the constituencies or community.
The workshop was also used to educate the media on the distinction between the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Parliament, yet emphasising their complimentary roles.
According to the General Manager of the Parliamentary News Africa, Mr Gilbert Borketey Boyefio, the capacity of participants are being built to hold duty bearers accountable by fact checking their public comments, and presentations on national issues and constituency related issues.
“We believe this, when effectively done, would adequately equip citizens to hold duty bearers accountable and make MPs more responsive to the concerns of the public they represent. It would make the institution of Parliament more transparent and serve as a tool to better inform citizens to reward high performing MPs with electoral victories,” he observed.
Resource persons for the introductory capacity training workshop were Mr. Vitus Azeem, Executive Director, Ghana Centre For Budget Advocacy; Mr Ebenezer Djietror, Head, Table Office, Parliament of Ghana; and Mr Ohene Okai, Consultant, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.