In the last three years, monitoring reports by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) shows that close to 200 incidents of press freedom violations have been recorded across West Africa. These violations have included physical attacks, threats, and arbitrary arrest and detention.
This is despite the steady development in the media landscape with constitutional guarantees for press freedom, freedom of expression and access to information. Particularly, in Ghana, there is a noticeable trend of a relentless cycle of attacks on journalists and the media by security agents. For instance, as of the second half of 2021, the MFWA had recorded nine (9) cases of violations against journalists and the media in Ghana, most of which were perpetrated by security agents
Related to the issue of the safety of journalists and the media is the growing concerns of the lowering media professionalism standards and disregard for ethics in the media in recent times. The falling standards in media professionalism have resulted in waning public trust and confidence in the media and press freedom.
Between June 2020 and May 2021, the MFWA’s monitoring of incidents of ethical infractions/violations by some selected media houses in Ghana showed a high record of ethical violations on radio, followed by news websites and newspapers. During the period of monitoring, a total of 22,271 media content were monitored on 26 selected media organisations out of which 2,710 ethical violations were recorded. Out of the total ethical violations recorded, 1,754 (65%) were recorded on radio, 906 violations (33%) were recorded on news websites whilst 50 (2%) were recorded by newspapers. The monitoring report noted that politically-affiliated media organisations perpetrated over 50% of ethics violations.
As part of efforts to improve media safety and professionalism in Ghana, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) will on Thursday, 28th October 2021 hold a public forum on Media Professionalism and Safety of Journalists in Ghana. The forum forms part of activities to mark this year’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists which falls on November 2, 2021.