The Registrar of the University of Professional Studies, Accra, Dr Koryoe Anim-Wright, has charged journalists and news organisations to uphold and aspire to professional standards of truth-telling, verification, and ethics of public interest in order to deal with the challenge of fake news.
She stated that the world is already experiencing a crisis for truth, and therefore news gatherers and media outfits, irrespective of their political ideology, should not serve as a conduit for disseminating untruth.
Dr Anim-Wright believes the phenomenon of fake news is not only an act of fraud but also a peril to Ghana’s democracy that needs to be tackled head-on.
Dr Anim-Wright issued the clarion call at the second Guest Lecture Series organised by the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Studies (FITC) on Wednesday, November 2.
Delivering a lecture on the topic “Ethics in News Reporting: The Post-Truth Era,” the renowned communication specialist said the post-truth era has been fuelled by new technology and the advent of new media.
With clicks becoming the determining factor of advertising revenue, she observed that voices of integrity were being silenced by the proliferation of new media voices on the online space.
She added that “changes in new media and its antecedent impact on news delivery have sharply impacted tried-and-true principles such as accuracy and ethics.
“Today, from bloggers to tweeters to citizen journalists, the media sphere is a shared one, and many are no longer concerned with the ethics and purpose of journalism.”
Dr Anim-Wright is advocating for ethics-driven journalism, which also seeks to be editorially independent of political and commercial interests, stressing that journalists whose conduct, utterances, and publications flout the ethics of their profession should be called to order.
For her part, the CEO of the Media General Group, Madam Beatrice Agyemang Abbey, opined that Ghana’s media landscape was not immune to the canker of the post-truth era, which continues to witness a surge in misinformation and disinformation.
She said that regrettably, the falling standards of journalism practice have been compounded by the proliferation of sub-standard journalism training institutions as well as the low professional qualification for entry level journalists.
The situation, Beatrice Abbey believes, must be critically assessed in order to change the status quo.
“It is assumed that people who lecture—like doctors, lawyers, and engineers—cannot practice journalism. That is not true. I believe that for where we find ourselves now, we need to get these people into our space for them to share informed knowledge with us.”
Dean of FITC, Prof Emmanuel Selase Asamoah, noted that the faculty has been concerned about the falling standards of journalism practice and the seeming lack of adherence to ethics within the media space.
He says the Guest Lecture Series therefore provides the academic platform and conducive climate for researchers and resource persons to share their knowledge with the university community and the rest of the world while shaping the thinking of society to help stimulate policy change.
The lecture was attended by some high-profile dignitaries from academia, the media, civil society groups, and students. Notable among them were Dr Kofi Ohene-Konadu, Chairman of the UPSA Governing Council; Prof Abednego F. O. Amartey, Vice-Chancellor; Prof Charles Barnor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Mr Nicholas Adjei, Director of Finance; and Mrs. Emelia Naa Kwantsua Agyei-Mensah – Registrar of the University of Ghana.