The Chief of Yapei Traditional Area, Dr. A.B.T Zakaria has traced the emergence of fake news in the country to the wanton abuse of freedom of expression by some journalists in the country.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the National Media Dialogue with Experts (NAMDEX 2022) in Tamale, Dr. Zakaria who is a former registrar of the University for Development Studies(UDS) noted that media pluralism has opened the floodgate for all manner of persons to practice as journalists without recourse to the ethics of the profession.
He intimated that the competition from media houses to break news stories to their respective audience has created a fertile ground for fake news to thrive as opposed to the meticulousness journalists exhibited before the liberalisation of the airwaves in 1992.
“There is an abuse of the newly found freedom by the Ghanaian media persons. Perhaps putting the issue into a historical perspective, in the past, about three decades ago, newspaper editors and radio programme directors and producers were more careful about what they put out for public consumption. Editors went to court to answer diverse charges and some made sentences and punishments”.
“The plurality of the media has brought in its wake the private participation in the media; the competition between media houses is so intense. Stories must be churned out and must be churned out very fast. So, some of the media houses have little or no time and no patience to conduct thorough verification and investigation before they publish,” he explained.
The theme for the programme was “The role of media practitioners and citizen journalists in the promotion of peace and security in the northern region, in an era of fake news”.
Dr. Zakaria emphasized that the phenomenon of fake news has gained prominence in Ghana and the world at large as a result of the internet which has afforded citizens the opportunity to disguise themselves as journalists and spread false information about people with politicians being the victims.
Proffering solutions to fake news, the revered chief recommended that media houses should formulate their self-regulatory rules aimed at meting out punishments to journalists who propagate false information.
He also suggested to all media houses to recruit only trained journalists since one’s fluency in English alone does not make one a journalist. He added that there is the need for journalists to pass legislations that frown upon the spread of fake news, among others.
The programme was a brainchild of Akwaaba GH. Enterprise in collaboration with the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA).
Its aim was to educate journalists, Senior High Students (SHS), students of colleges of education, University students, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the general public about the dangers associated with the spread of fake news.
A1radioonline.com|101.1 MHz|Elijah Beyeni Yenibey|Bolgatanga