Journalists demands for accountability with Media Development Fund.


Mr Andrew Edwin Arthur, Dean of Ghana’s
Parliamentary Press Corps, has called for a
public accountability of monies released to the
Media Development Fund towards building the
capacity of practitioners to enhance
professionalism.
He explained: “Till date, the question as to
how much has so far been disbursed from the
fund and what the money was used for has
still not been answered.
“It is regrettable that, such a laudable
initiative has been abused by those who were
expected to handle it, and I believe it will not
be too much to call on the managers of the
fund to come out and to let the Ghanaian
media know the current state of the Fund.”
Mr Arthur was speaking end-of-year get-
together, for the PPC, at the Fore Court of the
State House, in Accra.
The government in 2011 announced the
establishment of a GH¢1 million Media
Development Fund to help the media in
Ghana’s development but the disbursement of
the fund had been fraught with challenges as
stakeholders, including the National Media
Commission and the Media Foundation for
West Africa (MFWA), had been advocating a
neutral body to disburse the fund.
In latter part of 2013, however, the then
Minister of Information , Mr Mahama Ayariga,
told Parliament, while answering questions,
that the money was used to purchase 950
laptops for journalists.
The Minister told Parliament that the laptops
were purchased by the Ministry after it had
consulted key media stakeholder groups – the
Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the
Private Newspaper Publishers Association of
Ghana (PRINPAG) and Ghana Independent
Broadcasters Association (GIBA).
But, GIBA denied receiving any money or
laptops from the Ministry of Information, while
the GJA said it received only 140 laptops.
Mr Arthur criticised the NMC and the GJA for
not doing enough to enhance the capacity of
journalists to promote high standards and
ensure national unity and progress.
He said the two bodies, mandated to regulate
journalism practice in the country, had “turned
themselves into armchair bodies who bark
without biting.”
“…the Parliamentary Press Corps are so sad
about the dormant roles being played by the
National Media Commission (NMC) and the
Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in terms
of training for media practitioners,” Mr Arthur
said.
“The fear of the Parliamentary Press Corps is
that, if care is not taken, they may become
irrelevant as far as Ghana’s media are
concerned, since they only keep talking about
their problems, key among, which being their
inability to move against journalism related
offences, instead of they being progressive in
finding solutions to the various media
excesses.”
Mr Arthur said the NMC and the GJA had
been to identify credible and reliable media
organisations like the Parliamentary Press
Corps to work with them through training to
efficiently prosecute their mandate.
Mr Arthur, however, commended the Press
Corps for its output during 2014 , but pleaded
with Parliament to adequately brief the Corps
on issues likely to generate wide debate to
prepare them for coverage because the media
would automatically engage in speculations
when there is lack of information.
He appealed for office space for the Corps
when the Job 600 building was completed, as
well computers to work with.
Mr Arthur assured Ghanaians that the Corps
was positioning itself to serve as an effective
link between Parliament and the public.
“We have decided as part of our programme
this year, to serve as a bridge to close the gap
between Parliament and Ghanaians, and this,
we are going to do by organizing outreach
programmes countrywide to educate
Ghanaians on the contents of Bills before the
House to afford the interested ones the
opportunity of making input into those Bills
before they are passed into laws,” he said.
The Dean added: “The same platform will be
used to educate Ghanaians on the contents of
Bills passed into law in order not to
contravene them, as evidence abound to the
effect that, as of today, some Ghanaians are
not aware of some sensitive laws that have
been passed by their representatives into law.”
Mr Doe Adjaho, Speaker of the House, assured
the journalists of effective collaboration
between Parliament and the Corps, and
reminded members that they were part of the
institution of Parliament.
He, therefore, urged them to be guided by the
new Code of Behaviuor being developed for
members of the House.
He asked the journalists to do more research
on issues that come on the Floor on the
House for well-informed reportage.
The get-together was used to recognize and
honour some former members for their corps
for their contributions to the birth, growth and
development of the Corps.
Among them were Mr Samuel Owusu Nimako,
founding dean, and Ms Ruby Amable, both
formerly of the Ghana Broadcasting
Corporation; and Mr James Addy, of the
Ghanaian Times newspaper.
GNA

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