Media and Public Relations Consultant Gayheart Mensah has emphasised the need for a code of ethics for political communicators ahead of the 2024 general elections.
He explained that the adoption of a written code of conduct, accompanied by a clear sanctions regime, will not only promote ethical campaigns but also enhance Ghana’s democratic credentials.
Mr Mensah believes his proposal will also compel political actors to refrain from misinformation and disinformation as well as help political parties better communicate with their stakeholders.
Mr Gayheart Mensah made the proposal in an address at the fourth Guest Lecture Series organised by the UPSA Faculty of Information Technology and Communications Studies (FITCS).
The public lecture, held on Wednesday, November 15, was themed “PR Ethics and Political Communication in an Election Year: Challenges, Prospects, and Recommendations for Democratic Development.”
“Political actors in Ghana must sponsor a Code of Ethics for political communicators with a clear sanctions regime in the build-up to the 2024 elections,” Mr Mensah stressed.
“All political parties must sign up for it and pledge to ensure that all those who communicate in their name and on their behalf shall abide by the articles of the code.”
The renowned PR practitioner further mentioned that public relations training institutions like the UPSA must work in partnership with industry to undertake an ethical communication literacy campaign that is appropriately targeted at relevant audiences within the body politic.
This, he said, will help to critically assess political information that is disseminated during the election season.
“The challenges of political communication in an election year are about how to minimise falsehoods and information or language that can draw a wedge among us,” he said.
“It is about ensuring that what we communicate contributes to keeping the peace, unity, progress, and development of the country.”
Dean of the FITCS, Prof Emmanuel Selase Asamoah, expressed concerns about the quality of political discourse, especially in an election year.
He stated that the Guest Lecture Series therefore offers an academic platform and a conducive environment for industry experts to share their knowledge with both the university community and the global audience while contributing to shaping societal perceptions and fostering policy changes.
Prof Asamoah expressed the readiness of the Communication Studies department to collaborate with the Institute of Public Relations, Ghana, to develop short courses in areas such as PR Ethics and Political Communication to address the gap in ethical communication in political campaigns.
“In line with the mandate of the university, the Faculty of ITCS has rolled out industry-relevant programmes such as the MBA Corporate Communication and MA/MPhil Media and Digital Communication Management, as well as new undergraduate programmes BA Communication Studies and BA Language and Communication,” Prof Asamoah said.
The Head of the Department of Communication Studies, Dr Adwoa Sikayena Amankwah stated that lecture aimed “to set the agenda for how political communicators were to frame ethical public relations messages to their constituents as we draw closer to the election year.”
The public lecture was chaired by communications consultant Major Albert Don Chebe, and attended by faculty members, staff, and students of UPSA.