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By Her Excellency Margaret Ivy Amoakohene, Ghana High Commissioner to Canada
• There is a veritable connection between democracy, political participation, and good governance. • Similarly, there are linkages between journalism (the mass media) and politics in the Gold Coast (colonial Ghana). • The press played a seminal role in the struggle for independence, which ultimately resulted in the liberation of the Gold Coast from colonialism.
the mass media have played a useful role either to ensure the practice of democracy or to safeguard it against abuse.INTRODUCTION • Throughout Africa. • This presentation focuses on the interface between the mass media and democracy in Ghana since the attainment of independence in 1957. .
• Continues through the unconstitutional years of Flt Lt J. Nkrumah’s CPP Government. • Touches on other short-lived regimes until President Rawlings’ NDC and President Kufuor’s NPP.INTRODUCTION • It attempts to examine this relationship from regime to regime beginning with Dr. J. . Rawlings’ PNDC.
• It examines the interface between the media and politics and how interactions between the mass media and political actors impact on democracy.INTRODUCTION • The presentation highlights the role of the media towards safeguarding democracy under each regime and the responses of the various political establishments. .
. • It operates a system in which the mass media are both actors and facilitators.GHANA’S DEMOCRACY • Ghana’s democracy is a hybrid of the North American and British Westminster models combining constitutionalism. participation and representation at both the national and local levels.
• It has. for the first time in the country’s history.bracing up for the 5th. had four such governments . also had a smooth changeover from one political party to another operating within the same Constitution and the same Republic. . since 1992.GHANA’S DEMOCRACY • Ghana has a democratically elected government headed by a President and has.
• It has an independent Judiciary and other independent constitutional bodies: – Electoral Commission – Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice – National Media Commission .GHANA’S DEMOCRACY • Ghana has a 230-member multi-party Parliament with a very strong Opposition.
• McQuail (2000) provides a list of mediation roles or functions that the mass media have been known or perceived to play in society. .The Role of the Mass Media in Democracy • Open up channels of communication to enable public access to government and its structures. and to engender public involvement and discussion of government activities.
“a signpost. . 2000. p. guide or interpreter”. “a filter or gatekeeper”. “a mirror of events in society and the world”. 66). “a forum or platform for the presentation of information and ideas” and as “an interlocutor or informed partner in conversation” (McQuail.ROLE OF MEDIA • The media are seen as “a window on events and experience”.
ROLE OF MEDIA • Ensure good governance and government accountability through the provision of adequate and accessible information. economic growth and consumer choice. which is a sine qua non of democracy. . the media constitute an important component of the political process in democracies. • By providing and facilitating the flow of information.
• Perform watchdog roles over Governments. • Usually set the agenda for debate and discussion on issues of importance. • Bring societies. • Provide entertainment. social institutions and cultures closer to each other through news coverage and the provision of information. .ROLE OF MEDIA • The media educate through the provision of news and information. their agencies and institutions as well as over society and its institutions.
Ansu-Kyeremeh & Karikari. the newspaper was introduced and used more as a political tool to link the centre to the periphery than as a tool for the dissemination of information (Anokwa. . • Under colonialism. 1998). 1997.The Media in Ghana • The history and development of the mass media in Ghana are inextricably linked to the country’s political history.
. but later used as tools for suppressing dissent (Wilcox. • Immediately after independence. they became tools for political mobilisation. and weapons for the total liberation of Africa. organisation and education. 1975). 1991a). newspapers were used to organise and galvanise the people to fight to liberate the country from colonialism (Ansah.The Media in Ghana • During the struggle for independence.
witnessed even greater media involvement in politics. p.The Media in Ghana • The role of the mass media in Ghana has today transformed from the freedom fighter of the early newspapers to the watchdog role assigned by Ghana’s 1992 Constitution (Article 162 (5)). 18). “the period of transition from the Rawlings years of dictatorship to a democratic republic” (Ampaw. • Ghana of the 1990s. . 2004.
complex. confrontational. • Their roles determined by the unstable. and supportive roles depending on the prevailing political atmosphere.The Media in Ghana • The Ghanaian media have vacillated between intrepidity and cowardice along a continuum of revolutionary. social and political environments in which they function. legitimacy. .
• This is a kind of mid-posture between the watchdog and lapdog concepts. 1997).• In normal times. Tichenor and Olien (1995) referred to as the guard dog. and on the average. they have functioned more like what Donohue. owing principally to the uncertainty of their operational environment (Boafo. 1985. Anokwa. .
Blay-Amihere & Alabi. 1985). . 1996).The Media in Ghana • They have tried to play the watchdog role during most civilian administrations (Boafo. 1988. • They have also had to play the lapdog role out of genuine fear for their lives especially during military regimes (Boafo.
The Media in Ghana • The mass media have enabled large sections of Ghana’s population to voice out their feelings especially through letters to editors and interactive radio programmes in local languages. • These allow Ghana’s citizens to contribute to discussions on issues that affect the society. .
. 1996). Asante. relations between the mass media and government have varied from regime to regime (Anokwa. 1997. Ansah. 1996.Government-Media Relations • Throughout Ghana’s history. • Various governments have tended to excessively control the media and to use them largely as mouthpieces for propagating their political agenda (Anokwa. 1997. 1991a). 1997. Yankah. Asante.
.Government-Media Relations • Relations were most sour under the regime of Dr Kwame Nkrumah and especially during the unconstitutional regimes of military dictators such as General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong and Flt-Lt Jerry John Rawlings. they were more relaxed under the civilian administrations of Dr Busia. • Conversely. Dr Limann and Mr Kufuor.
. p. which made journalistic work hazardous. a situation that curtails the “cultivation and nurturing of free expression” (p. 33).31).Government-Media Relations • During the unconstitutional rule of the PNDC (1982-1992). • “Culture of silence” is defined as “antidemocratic and anti-freedom of expression communication” (Ansu-Kyeremeh. 19992001. the media lived under a regime characterised by a “culture of silence” with the promulgation of the newspaper licensing law (PNDC Law 211).
1963.Government-Media Relations • The concept – culture of silence .recalls Dr Nkrumah’s belief that the type of free expression “which established democracies have taken generations to evolve” was beyond the reach of a young independent country (an emergent democracy) like Ghana (Nkrumah. . p 77).
• As a result. . the terms “state-owned media” and “government media” are usually used interchangeably even by the National Communications Authority (NCA).Government-Media Relations • During much of Ghana’s postindependence history. 1998). the mass media have been largely under government monopoly and control (Ansu-Kyeremeh & Karikari.
. and equal opportunities in employment and education. 1991). free expression.CONCLUSION • The media are critical to the realisation of the ideals of Ghana’s democracy. among others. free movement. are respected in democracies (Ansah. free association. • They monitor the extent to which people’s rights to free speech.
CONCLUSION • The requirements of probity. • Theoretically. . accountability and transparency in democratic governance underscore the importance of the mass media and feedback from the public. Ghana’s Constitution in Chapter 12 and Article 21 makes the mass media one of the pillars of Ghana’s democracy and an important vehicle through which Ghana can establish and sustain its democratic culture.
• They have played vital roles in both the historical and socio-political development of the country (Ansah. . 2001a). 2001). 1999/2001a & b. 1991a.CONCLUSION • The media have been instrumental in safeguarding Ghana’s democratic principles (Ayee. Smith & Temin. Gyimah-Boadi.
in Ghana as elsewhere. representing the Presidency. joined by the “Fourth Estate” (the mass media) in importance to democratic governance.CONCLUSION • Thus the traditional trio of the Executive. Legislature and Judiciary. . Parliament and the Courts (Supreme Court) are.
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