Mr Roland Affail Monney, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has charged the media to use the power they wield to expose powerful people who abuse the rights of poor and vulnerable persons in society.
“The most powerful weapon on earth is the media… so let’s use the power we wield backed by the influence we peddle to confront frontally, people who violate the rights of others”, he emphasized.
Mr Monney made the call at a two-day human rights training programme for 20 selected journalists across the country at Aburi in the Akuapem South District of the Eastern Region.
The five-month project dubbed: “Mobilising Media for Fighting COVID-19 (MMFC)” with funding from Global Affairs, Canada, is being implemented by the GJA in collaboration with Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) across Africa.
Mr Monney acknowledged that writing against the powerful in society was not an easy task, noting, however, that journalism was not for the faint-hearted but rather for people who were prepared to put their lives on the line to defend others.
“We should show the courage to write against them if we find them abusing the rights of others”, he emphasized.
“People living in slums, people’s livelihoods being under threat, and people sleeping under inhumane conditions are some of the issues begging for comprehensive journalism and should prick the conscience of journalists to do what is right”, the GJA President noted.
Mr Monney stressed the need for journalists to get politicians to match their promises with actions by placing importance on follow-up stories.
“If a politician promises to tar or reshape a road within one year and if the one year elapse and the road is still not worked on, it is important to do a follow-up to let people know the state of the road after the promise”, he said.
Ms Zubaida Ismail, a Mentor of the Project urged the project mentees to be guided by the national and international human rights instruments in their reportage.
Mrs Linda Asante-Agyei, Vice President of the GJA who took the mentees through Human Rights and Gender Reporting and Freedom of Expression & Misinformation on Covid-19 urged journalists to be gender-sensitive in their reportage and must endeavour to give women and vulnerable groups a voice.
She entreated journalists to be mindful of the language they use when reporting on gender issues and give priority attention to gender issues.
The Vice President who is also a Mentor encouraged journalists to pay attention to the numerous fake news flooding the media space and advised them to always fact check every information to know the authenticity before using them.
“The media space is now flooded with all manner of stories and social media has come to stay so let us as professionals be extremely careful when using the information on social media as facts”, she advised.
The project is aimed at contributing to international public health efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 with emphasis on women and girls’ rights across the 12 implementing countries.