Ghana improves in 2024 press freedom ranking

Ghana has improved on its media ranking, the World Press Freedom Index 2024 published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has revealed. The report indicated that Ghana made a significant improvement by moving from the 62nd position in the 2023 ranking to the 50th position in the 2024 ranking, which covered 180 countries. According to the report, regarded as one of Africa's most democratic countries, Ghana had a vibrant and pluralistic media environment. It noted that, however, the creation of media outlets by politicians had given rise to politicised and biased media content. 'Thanks to the 1992 Constitution authorising new media outlets to be created without a licence, Ghana has at least 100 media outlets, including radio stations, TV channels and?news?sites. Many privately owned media, such as?the?Joy News?channel, the?Myjoyonline?website?and?radio?Peace FM, are very popular and reflect a high degree of pluralism and diversity,' it stated. 'They have the independence necessary to operate without politic al restrictions. The state-owned?Ghana Broadcasting Corporation,?and its TV and radio stations,?GBC TV and GBC Radio,?have nationwide coverage.' It reiterated that there were also numerous community radio stations throughout the country; however, measures taken by the authorities to promote media pluralism had favoured, in recent years, the emergence of partisan media outlets launched by politicians. The report said journalists' safety had seriously deteriorated in Ghana in recent years; stating that several attacks on press freedom had been registered, including the intrusion of ruling party supporters into a TV studio and an attack on a journalist during a live report in October 2023. It said politicians?had also made?death threats against investigative journalists. The report said most cases of police violence against journalists were not pursued.? It said the same went for murderers of journalists and that five years after the brutal death of investigative reporter Ahmed Hussein-Suale, the investigat ion had come to a halt. It said worse still, the Attorney General and Justice Minister told Parliament in early 2024 that criminal prosecutions had not been initiated due to lack of evidence. On the global front this year, the RSF highlights a 'worrying decline in support and respect for media autonomy and an increase in pressure from the state or other political actors'. This is based on the fact that, of the five indicators used to compile the ranking, it is the political indicator that has fallen most, with a global average decline of 7.6 points. Out of the 180 countries and territories analysed, some 138 places had a majority of their respondents saying that political actors in their countries were involved in disinformation or propaganda campaigns. This involvement is described as 'systematic' in 31 countries. The?United States?ranked 55th in 2024, having dropped 10 positions. RSF notes that the country (United States) is experiencing growing distrust in the media, partly driven by antagonism from political officials, while there have also been cases of local law enforcement raiding newsrooms. Source: Ghana News Agency

Papaase residents kick against alleged plans to mine on River Kantango

The chiefs and people of Papaase and surrounding farming communities in the Bia West District of the Western North Region have kicked against alleged plans by some individuals to undertake illegal mining activities, popularly known as 'galamsey' on the River Kantango. Speaking at a press conference, Mr Djangmah John Agboka, Sub-Chief Farmer at New Papaase, explained they had been reliably informed about the intentions of some persons to mine on their farmlands. He, however, said all the chiefs and people in those areas had resolved to resist any attempt to undertake galamsey activities, which he added would destroy their cocoa farms, which had been their only source of livelihood. He said: 'We know that galamsey will bring harmful effects to our health, and also pollute the only stream in the area, Kantango, which serves as the only source of water to residents, so we will not allow such activity to happen here.' Mr Agboka appealed to the Government through the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry to inte rvene for them to ensure galamsey did not happen in the area. Mr Louis Afful, Assembly Member for Elloukrom Electoral Area, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), indicated that Bia West was the only District in the region without galamsey, and that allowing it in the area would expose them to the health risk associated with the activity. 'We are calling on traditional authorities behind the illegal mining activities to desist from such illegality in order not to incur the wrath of the community members,' he added. Some of the residents also told the GNA that they would do everything in their power not to allow galamsey activities in the area since it would destroy their cocoa farms. Source: Ghana News Agency

Central Tongu DCE engages Military and Police personnel to enhance security

Mr Thomas Moore Zonyrah, the District Chief Executive (DCE) of Central Tongu, has taken decisive steps to bolster security measures in response to a series of alarming incidents involving armed robbery and attacks on traders within the district. The spate of attacks, particularly targeting traders, predominantly cattle sellers at the Aflavenu market, has prompted Mr Zonyrah to engage both personnel of the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Armed Forces. The DCE told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that unidentified assailants perpetrated a brazen attack last week Friday, resulting in the shooting of two traders and the tragic loss of one victim's life. 'In light of these distressing events, I have proactively reached out to law enforcement agencies to fortify security measures in the district, particularly around areas frequented by traders,' he explained. Mr Zonyrah emphasized that the situation was being closely monitored and managed and assured the traders of swift action. He also indicated that the Distr ict Security Council (DISEC) is committed to ensure that the perpetrators are apprehended. Mr Zonyrah urged the traders to remain steadfast in their economic activities, emphasizing that their safety and well-being are paramount. The DCE also asked residents to be vigilant and report any suspected actions to the security agencies, Assembly Members and Unit Committee Members for immediate intervention. 'Our Police and Military personnel would?be protecting the traders every day. But I also call upon the residents to speak up when they suspect anyone. They can even reach out to me or the security officers anytime,' Mr Zonyrah stated. He mentioned that DISEC would ensure that more security personnel were engaged in the coming days to protect the traders and their properties. Source: Ghana News Agency

Prioristise fact-checking as weapon against dis/misinformation – Prof. Opoku-Agyemang

Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, the Running Mate of the National Democratic Congress, has urged Public Relations (PR) professionals to navigate the media landscape with vigilance, emphasising the crucial role of fact-checking in an era of information overload. Addressing PR experts during the national public relations and communications summit in Kwahu, she urged them to be extra vigilant in their work and prioritise the verification of information, to counteract misinformation and disinformation. She further highlighted the importance of adopting responsible communication practices in the current explosive media environment. Prof. Opoku-Agyeman stressed that with the abundance of information, it was more critical than ever for PR professionals to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the content they disseminate. She said as the public continued to grapple with the challenges posed by misinformation and information overload, the call to action served as a reminder of the vital role PR professionals played in maintaining the integrity of information sharing. She said by prioritising fact-checking and vigilance in their work, PR professionals would help combat the spread of false information and contribute to a more informed society. 'Providing accurate information can be challenging in a politicised environment but I encourage you to strive for the truth and integrity in your practice,' she added. Mr Mawuko Afadzinu, the Immediate Past President of the Institute of Public Relations (IPR) Ghana, highlighted the importance of adapting to new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance the profession and status of PR practitioners. He also emphasised that AI could bring significant efficiencies and allow practitioners to achieve more with less. He said IPR Ghana's primary objective was to offer a professional structure for the practice of public relations and elevate the abilities and standing of its members as expert professionals. He noted that while AI can perform tasks requiring huma n intelligence, such as learning, problem-solving, and decision-making, creativity remained the domain of humans. 'By blending their expertise in public relations and communications with AI's processing powers, professionals can elevate their practice,' he said, adding, 'Moreover, AI can help combat misinformation, disinformation, and information overload by tracking sentiment.' The Institute of Public Relations (IPR) Ghana organised the national summit alongside its Annual General Meeting drawing public relations and communication practitioners, and academics from both public and private sectors. The event aimed to address pressing concerns in public relations, particularly in an era marked by widespread misinformation, disinformation, and information overload. The three-day event, on the theme: 'PR experience in the age of misinformation, disinformation and information overload,' brought together industry experts, professionals, and stakeholders to discuss and share insights on navigating the complex la ndscape of modern communication. The summit provided a platform for participants to network and learn innovative practices, while the Annual General Meeting reviewed the previous year's activities, reflected on them, and planned for 2024. Source: Ghana News Agency

Farmers receives free coconut seedlings at Biakoye District

Over 35,000?coconut seedlings have been distributed to farmers in the Biakoye District Assembly through the Department of Local Government and Rural Development. The initiative, under the Planting for Export and Rural Development, is to boost cash crop production and export which ultimately translate into revenue generation. The Planting for Export and Rural Development is a decentralized national tree crop programme to promote rural economic growth and improve household incomes of farmers through the provision of certified improved seedlings. Madame Millicent Kabuki, the District Chief Executive (DCE), said the Assembly considered coconut under the initiative to be the most suitable cash crop after considering the weather conditions and the soil in the district. She gave the initiative's benefits, which included revenue generation through export and income for farmers. 'These coconut seedlings are expected to be harvested by 3- years after planting, adding she look forward to boosting agriculture within the district as the produce will be exported to generate income,' she told the Ghana News Agency (GNA). Reverend Harrison Worlasi Adorblosu, District Director of Agriculture asked farmers to accept coconut farming as a rewarding venture, hence, the Assembly's resolve to make farming attractive to the youth to reduce unemployment in Biakoye District. He advised farmers to heed to the education and directives of their Extension Agents to help improve their farm yields and income. Mr Adorblosu cautioned the beneficiaries to take proper care of the seedlings from grasscutter and other animals that could destroy the coconut seedlings, adding that, the farmers should not apply unapproved chemicals that can cause the seedlings to die prematurely. Some farmers thanked the Government and the Assembly for this kind gesture which will keep them busy and improve their livelihood. Source: Ghana News Agency