A veteran journalist, Mr David Ampofo, has urged the media not to please governments or try to win favours from them.
Rather, he said, the media must, in pursuit of their mandate, hold governments accountable.
Mr Ampofo made the call at the maiden Chevening Alumni lecture held in Accra last Thursday. The lecture was on the theme, “Holding government accountable – the role of the media.”
He said as the fourth estate of the realm, it was incumbent on the media to be independent, courageous and fearless to hold the government accountable, but noted that that could not be achieved if the media were in bed with the government.
“In fact, the government is not supposed to be happy with the media,” he added.
Although Ghana’s press freedom was considered as one of the freest, Mr Ampofo, who is also the Vice-President of the association, questioned the extent to which the media had promoted democracy with that freedom.
He stated that the media landscape was currently filled with political ownership and partisan political battles, noting: “When it gets to this point, the traditional role of speaking the truth to power and demand good governance is often sacrificed.”
Mr Ampofo said the current media was a reflection of the ownership structure and that politicians continued to pursue proprietorship of media outlets as a way of securing their positions.
“Sadly, many journalists have aligned with them one way or the other,” he added.
While calling for a new paradigm shift in the journalism profession, Mr Ampofo underscored the need for higher levels of professionalism, more media independence and a better understanding of the concept of the responsibility of the media.
He suggested that media houses should set up special desks that would make room for investigative journalists to delve deeper into issues to get the real stories and facts behind the scenes instead of focusing on officials and speakers at events.
To get results on societal problems such as corruption, flooding and gas explosions, he asked the media to take the lead to ensure that there was an end to those challenges.
To help strengthen democracy, Mr Ampofo also asked journalists to put out the facts devoid of bias, because their information shaped opinions and attitude.
Earlier in her welcome address, the President of the Chevening Alumni Association, Dr Charity Binka, said the lecture series was to provide a platform for healthy and constructive discussions on national issues and policies.
She said the theme was chosen due to the critical role the media played in shaping the destiny of the country.
Touching on the Chevening scholarship programme, she said it enabled students from around the world to experience the best of United Kingdom (UK) education, and urged them to apply for the programme.
Chevening is a scholarship programme funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK.
Since 1983, the Chevening scholarship programme has remained the foremost academic award that enables students from around the world to experience UK’s education.
The Chevening Alumni Association which was registered in 2016 has about 300 members in the country. Every year, more than 20 Ghanaians receive the scholarship.