CHAPTER 12 Article 162 of the 1992 Constitution spells out boldly the freedom and the independence of the media in Ghana.
The same chapter, Article 162 section (4), makes it clear that “Editors and publishers of newspapers and other institutions of the mass media shall not be subject to control or interference by Government, nor shall they be penalised or harassed for their editorial opinions and views, or the content of their publications.”
YES we on Today believe that the framers of the 1992 Constitution did the right thing by entrenching in the constitution freedom and independence of the media. And like it is in every democratic country freedoms come with responsibilities.
SO, though our three cardinal functions include informing, educating and entertaining the Ghanaian public, they certainly come with responsibilities. That is why we have editors whose job is to see to it that whatever is churned out is in good taste.
WE have had occasions in this country where the National Media Commission (NMC) has come out to condemn outright publications of items, particularly pictures which ought not to be published, due to the fact that they affect the dignity of victims and sensibilities of the general public.
ARTICLE 7.2 of the NMC Print Media Guidelines on grief states that “in cases involving bereavement, personal grief or shock, the press must show compassion. Publication must be handled sensitively at such times.”
IT is against this backdrop that Today condemns the publication by some media houses of gory pictures of deceased persons involved in the Kintampo road accident which death toll is now around over seventy. The publication of those pictures indeed was not only in bad taste but more importantly, violated Article12 of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Code of Ethics.
WE expect that in cases of grief, distress, we (as journalists) would exercise some level of discretion on what to publish and what not to! And we must not only be guided by the money-making factor!
REVERING the dead is part of our cultural values. Therefore, it will be completely out of place when as journalists we decide to make it a habit of always publishing dead pictures on our front page. It is bad and we must refrain from that practice.
UP till now no single dead picture of the 9/11 World Trade Centre attack has been published in any media outlet in the USA and outside. What does this tell us? For us at Today it tells us that we don’t have to add more insult in times of pain and grief.
In our attempts to publish information, particularly about accidents/deaths, it is important we take into consideration the grief of relatives of the victims.
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