The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is alarmed at the unprofessional manner in which the Ghanaian media has reported the alleged kidnap and sexual attack on a female presenter of YFM, a privately-owned radio station in the Western regional capital, Takoradi.
Since the story broke, almost all media reports have identified the victim by name and in some instances by photographs of the alleged incident.
This conduct of the media clearly violates ethical principles of the profession. For instance, Article 5 (I) of the GJA Code of ethics enjoins journalists to respect the right to privacy and human dignity, while Article 14 urges journalists to avoid identifying victims of sexual assault. In cases of personal grief or distress such as this, journalists are required under Article 16 of the Code to exercise tact and diplomacy in seeking information and publishing.
We therefore expected journalists and their editors to be very circumspect in the coverage of the incident in a way that will respect the privacy and dignity of the victim while supporting her in her moments of grief as required by the Code of ethics.
As a result of their ability to give decisive visibility to issues and happenings, the media should be more circumspect in their reportage and also be guided by the standards of the profession in protecting victims of such abuses so as not to court societal stigmatisation for them.
Issued by the MFWA in Accra on April 14, 2015.