The media must be supported to overcome the current economic challenges in order to enable them to continuously play their role in consolidating the country’s democracy.
Ghanaian journalists work in difficult circumstances and lack the resources to provide the kind of robust coverage needed to fulfill some of their essential functions.
Delivering an inaugural lecture at the University of Ghana (UG) on Thursday, April 29, 2022, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, former Dean of the School of Information and Communication Studies, UG, said the COVID pandemic -19 had put a strain on the media and “needs a bailout.
“…as a key pillar of democracy, the media sector is too important to fail. It needs a bailout on multiple fronts,” she said.
“We must remember that the media is a public good and must be supported to survive. If only for nothing else, they must survive in the interests of democracy,” she added.
Professor Gadzekpo said that in the wake of apparent economic challenges, media companies need to embrace new models and find innovative ways to support their operations.
“The old model where commercial advertising is the main source of media funding is obviously atrophied. Other types of sustainable funding, from private philanthropy to private grants, need to be explored,” she said.
Professor Gadzekpo, professor of communication studies, said media owners also need to invest regularly in building the capacity of their employees and not rely solely on stakeholders to build the capacity of their journalists.
She observed that many journalists are “inexperienced, lack the required knowledge of the areas they cover and lack a keen sense of history”.
Prof. Gadzekpo said that despite the challenges facing the media, the practice of journalism in Ghana has shown a lot of potential.
Referring to an Afrobarometer report, which indicated that public trust in the media had eroded, she said the media needed to self-introspect their performance and work to address the issue.
“Without popular support for civic freedom, there is a risk that an authoritarian-minded government will impose further restrictions aimed at weakening the ability of the media to hold them accountable.
“If the media are meant to be guardians of democracy, they themselves must deepen their commitment to democratic ideals,” she said.
The media should work to serve the public interest and support democratic development, she added.
Professor Gadzekpo said efforts to improve professional ethical standards in the media must be strengthened to ward off “hostile external regulations”.
She called on media companies and media associations such as the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) to encourage self-regulation and make their employees and employers more accountable. .