The Electoral Commission (EC) says it will welcome public scrutiny and criticism of its work, especially as the nation heads into a crucial election in 2024, however, this must be done with objectivity and candour.
Mrs Jean Mensa, the Chairperson of the EC, said that would ensure national peace, security and sustenance of the country’s democracy.
“We at the EC are not above scrutiny. Scrutinise and critique our work as your role requires but do so with objectivity. Criticisms laced with insults and falsehood should be beneath you,” she told members of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) on Sunday.
This was part of her keynote address during the 27th GJAAwards held at the Accra International Conference Centre.
It was on the theme: “Leveraging Media Freedom to Sustain the Democratic and Security Architecture: The Litmus Test of Election 2024”.
The EC Boss noted that the stakes for the 2024 Election were high because they could make or break the peace and security.
“We are partners in this quest to build our nation. We should put our nation first and work to ensure that irrespective of our political divide, our actions and activities inure to the benefit of our dear country.”
She, therefore, urged the media to be conversant with the delicate interplay required of them to safeguard Ghana’s democracy, peace and harmony.
“The 2024 Election will be more than democratic exercise, it is the test of our nation’s resilience.”
“As journalists, you’ll play a crucial role in building up that resilience. You’re the ears, eyes and hearts of the citizens,” she said.
The role of journalists could either impact the nation positively or negatively, Mrs Mensa said, and called for the truth to be upheld at all times.
“Ensure that your work goes beyond mere rhetoric to practising responsible journalism”, she admonished and acknowledged the pioneering role the media had played in shaping and shepherding the nation’s democracy over the years.
The EC Chairperson chastised some media outlets for being used as vehicles for spreading propaganda, churning falsehoods and misinformation, thus, polarising the citizenry on political party lines. The media must rise to their responsibility of promoting transparency, truth and accuracy, she said.
“Your work as journalists will impact positively or negatively on our dear nation. As the Fourth Estate, you’re not only facets of our democracy, you’re its bedrock, beacon of truth.”
“You’re the guardians of transparency. You’re the vanguard for freedom, catalyst for informing and shaping public debate.”
The National Media Commission, she said, must ensure strict adherence to media ethics and set the standards to promote truth and respect and punish those who flouted the rules and regulations. The citizens must be discerning and demand the truth always from the media.
“The power of the pen is unmatched and, therefore, must always engage in fact-checking of every information received thoroughly to avoid misinforming the public.”
In all, 34 awards were presented to journalists and media organisations for exceptional reporting and excellent work, with Mr Erasmus Asare Donkor, a Broadcast Journalist with Multimedia Group, being crowned the Journalist of the Year.
Citi FM’s Fred Duhoe grabbed the Best TV News reporter award.