Media Ethics: Readers’ Comment Section on Websites Becoming Platforms for Grave Obscenity and Insults emerged as the third worst perpetrator of media ethics violation recording 20 infractions in the period of August 16-31, 2020. The news websites came after the pro-partisan radio stations Power FM and Oman FM who recorded 50 and 21 violations, respectively.

These findings were observed by the ethics monitoring project of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) which monitored 26 news organisations made up of 10 Akan language radio stations, 10 newspapers and six news websites. A total of 971 pieces of content from the 26 organisations were monitored and analysed out of which 136 ethical violations were recorded.

All of the 20 violations that were recorded on were comments of readers published on the news website. These comments which are published on the news website are not only unedited or unscreened by editors as ethically expected but are left at the discretion of the readers who have used the section as a platform to actively engage in sharing obscenities and trading invectives. The insults are either shared on the subject matter of the news items published on the website or at another reader who has shared an opinion on the news.

The practice of leaving the comment section which often appears immediately below the news stories unedited was also noted to be common with which recorded six violations for the period of monitoring.

Over the period of monitoring radio stations were noted to be the worst perpetrators of the media ethics, recording 1o9 out of the 136 violations recorded for the period of monitoring. This was followed by news websites with 27 incidents. Newspapers recorded no ethical violation during the period.

The monitoring of media ethics is part of a project titled: Enhancing Media Professionalism To Inspire Public Confidence and Support for Press Freedom in Ghana being implemented with funding support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The objective of the project is to identify and highlight incidents of ethical infractions and draw attention to such breaches as a way of fostering adherence to ethical principles by media organisations.

The full report contains the specific ethical principles violated, the names of the media outlets that committed the violations, among other findings. Click here to access the full report. The instrument being used for the monitoring, which contains the category definitions for tracking and reporting of ethical principles is also available here.

For further clarifications and media interviews, contact the Programme Manager, Abigail Larbi-Odei (0244867047) or Programme Officer, Kwaku Krobea Asante (0249484528).

Share this story!

Related Stories