The National Network Co-ordinator for the West Africa Network for Peace Building, Ghana (WANEP), Mr Albert Yelgang, said the media must look at their internal structures, especially their hierarchy of checks, to ensure that information put out was not injurious to the society.
Mr Yelgang was speaking at a workshop organised for selected journalists in Kumasi by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) aimed at promoting dialogue and building consensus on national policy response to systemic governance issues.
Mr Yelgang said every election had been competitive in the country and that the 2020 elections could even be more competitive due to the winner-takes-all syndrome stressing that due diligence in reporting was required in view of that.
Making reference to the 2016 elections, Mr Yelgang noted that some of the campaign messages were hate statements which were carried out by some media houses with effects that could have been detrimental to the peace and stability of the country.
Some of the information, he said, had the potential of dividing than uniting the nation and that “this must be prevented in the up-coming elections,” he warned.He said even though the media over the years had worked hard to strengthen democracy by shaping the political discourse to focus on development issues, “there were some reportage of pitching one group against the other during the 2016 election which could have resulted in electoral violence.”
Journalists, he said, must avoid identity-based conflict issues and direct insults on their platforms because they were dangerous as they had the high tendency to provoke people and ignite violence.
The workshop was on the UNDP/CDD-Ghana project “ The multi-stakeholder consultative platform for peace and democratic governance.”
It seeks to build consensus and strengthen partnerships with civil society organisations, the media, the government and the private sector towards developing pragmatic and workable interventions to deal with critical issues to promote peace and governance in Ghana.
According to a Peace and Governance analyst of the UNDP Ghana, Melody Azinim, the workshop was for participants to provide workable solutions for challenges on peace and governance issues in the country ahead of the 2020 elections .
The participants’ capacities were built in areas such as conflict sensitive reporting and media ethics and responsibility, ensuring media professionalism and conflict-sensitive reporting.