The media must be helped to overcome the country’s current economic issues so that it can continue to play an important part in the country’s democratic consolidation.
Ghanaian journalists operate under difficult conditions and lack the resources to give the kind of comprehensive coverage required to carry out some of their key responsibilities.
Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, Former Dean, School of Information and Communication Studies, University of Ghana (UG), claimed the Covid-19 pandemic has put the media under strain and that it “needed a bailout” in an inaugural address on Thursday, April 29, 2022.
“…the media sector is too crucial to collapse as a key pillar of democracy.” “It requires a bailout on multiple fronts,” she stated.
“It’s important to remember that the media is a public benefit that needs to be supported in order to exist.” They must survive, if nothing else, for the sake of democracy,” she concluded.
Prof. Gadzekpo believes that, in the face of looming economic concerns, media companies must adopt new models and find creative methods to keep their businesses afloat.
“It’s clear that the old model of commercial advertising as the primary source of media income is failing. Other sources of long-term income, such as private charity and private subsidies, must be investigated, she said.
Prof. Gadzekpo, a communication studies professor, believes that media owners should engage in their staff’ capacity building on a regular basis, rather than relying exclusively on stakeholders to do so.
Many journalists, she said, are “inexperienced, lacking necessary information on the places they cover, and lacking in a strong sense of history.”
Despite the issues affecting the media, Prof. Gadzekpo believes that Ghanaian journalism has a lot of potential.
She said the media must undergo a self-introspection of its performance and seek to address the problem, citing an Afrobarometer research that revealed popular trust in the media had diminished.
“Without widespread public support for civic freedom, authoritarian governments may impose new limitations aimed at diminishing the media’s ability to hold them accountable.”
“If the media is to be trusted as defenders of democracy, they must enhance their commitment to democratic ideas,” she said.
She went on to say that the media must operate in the public interest and in support of democratic growth.
Prof. Gadzekpo believes that efforts to promote media professional ethics must be bolstered in order to avoid “hostile external restrictions.”
She urged media organizations such as the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) to promote self-regulation and hold their employees and employers more accountable.