SUMMER ACADEMY: JOURNALISTS URGED TO TELL THE TRUTH


Summer Academy, participants

Summer Academy, participants

One issue that rises in developing countries that are going or have gone through crisis, especially in Africa is how to deal with the past. Media practitioners have been encouraged to always tell the truth when referring to the past, in order not to renew unhealed wound. This was said during a 2 weeks workshop they have undergone in Ghana, Accra.

Some African countries, indeed, are going through various crises like violence during elections, civil war, conflicts and others have also gone through. Now the thought is how to look for reconciliation in order to settle or maintain peace. Here comes, the issue of how to deal with the past. The role of journalists in society is not to be left out; they have a huge role to play when it comes to peacekeeping, building democracy or development.

Stating the case of Liberia, Massa Washington, a commissioner of the Liberian truth and Reconciliation Commission, urged media practitioners to be mindful of the words they are using when dealing with the past. Giving an example, she said “it will be better to say survivors instead of victims”. Madam Theresa once, said “just for one word, you kill the spirit of the one you love” just to show the power of words. Madam Washington encouraged journalists therefore, to exercise care and sensitivity in seeking, publishing and broadcasting information about people who are personally grieved and distressed.

Talking at the workshop, organized by the International institute for Journalism (IIJ) of InWent, capacity Building International based in Germany, Yasmin Sooka an ex member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and Sierra Leone, emphasized on this particular point, saying that media practitioners should report accurately and avoid misleading and sensational headlines.

According to the General Manager of Graphic Communications in Accra, Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, journalists have to be as much  as objective they can, when dealing with the past. He argued that, the aim of reconciliation was achieved in Ghana with workshops and seminar that have been organized for journalists by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA). “The purpose was to access the role media have to play” he stated.

Regards to all that have been said, it is obvious that journalists can deal with the past, but this should be done according to the code of conduct. Media practitioners have to ensure that their reports are without distortions, and tell the truth.

Accra, Sylvio Combey

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