The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Kingsford Bagbin, has expressed worry about the current state of the media, citing intimidation and violence against media practitioners.
Bagbin has also called for a nationally agreed condition of service scheme for media practitioners.
Bagbin said this when speaking at a press soirée in Takoradi as part of activities marking 30 years of Uninterrupted Democracy under the Fourth Republic.
He noted that the poor welfare and violence against media practitioners are responsible for Ghana’s downgrading Human Rights record, which threatens Ghana’s democracy.
He, however, wondered why the country has not taken clear steps in not only protecting journalists but their welfare to enable journalists properly work as true gatekeepers of Ghana’s democracy.
“We are really worried about the state of the media. It’s not only the fear and the intimidation, or the attacks and violence against media personnel, but the working environment of the Media personnel…if the media is that important, how come the country has not come out to clearly spell out some conditions of service, even if it’s the minimal for the media personnel?”
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“How come people don’t appreciate the product of the media? Whether private or private, what the media does is for the public good. So you can see that because of what is happening to the media, our Human Rights record is gradually on the decline and there is the need for us to relook at the welfare and conditions of service of the media practitioner”, he noted.
He urged the leadership of Ghana not to take Ghana’s peaceful democracy for granted, in which the media has played a key role.
While establishing the importance of the media in democratic governance, Bagbin urged the media to recognise its role as the fourth realm of government and play it well.
“Yes! We have the executive, and it means they are to execute whatever we decide to do or must lead us to implementing whatever we have decided. You have the legislature, which traditionally is to legislate or stamp the decisions taken by all into law. And then we have the judiciary to mediate and intervene where what has not been legitimised is being used to govern.”
“However, in these three institutions, if we allow them just to be operating, nobody will know what they are doing. And so, as media, what can you improve, what they are doing, or how can you hold them to do what they must do? So that important arm that links all these important institutions with the people is the media. So the media is so important in a democracy.”, he said.
Speaker Bagbin, emphasising the important role of the media, said he wouldn’t have become a speaker if it wasn’t for the media.
“I have been a true friend of the media, and I have always appreciated and commended the media highly. If it wasn’t for the media, I’m not sure I will be a Speaker of Parliament. If not for the media, I wouldn’t have succeeded in winning seven successive elections and staying in Parliament up till this time. I recognised it very early and since 1995, I have worked with the media throughout. I sponsored and continue to sponsor media practitioners at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, but I don’t personally take ownership of any of them.”