Many times has it been said that the press and media is the fourth estate of the realm or arm of government by different entities and on different occasions. There are three possible descriptions of this saying: either it is a real talk, a cheap lullaby from politicians to put the media to slumber so they could operate freely or yet another masterpiece of deception to buy the allegiance of the media. Issues of such nature have been the bone of contention in many arguments of many media floors.
The 1992 constitution in article 162, clause 1 states that “The independence of the press and media is hereby guaranteed.” One big question which rises from this constitutional reference is that “Is it so?” What is so? Is the press and media really independent? This query I shall address in the subsequent paragraph of this article.
The NADAA led administration declared every six months end point in his governance as the President meet the press and media encounter. What was the motive behind such establishment which turns out to be useless anyway? Simply put, it was dedicated for the President to engage the media in pressing issues relating to his administration and all other matters associated with the entire government. The first edition which was held in July 2017 only propelled a grenade explosion between the presidency and the media. What transpired? Some media houses were denied invitation whilst some of the invitees were sidelined in the questioning of the President and his appointees or didn’t get the chance to engage in this encounter in anyway whatsoever.
The second edition which took place in January 2018 followed suit and nothing changed. The only excuse that the Min. for information, Mr. Mustapha Hamid could give to the media in the premises was that the President and his entourage had limited time to engage with the media, I could only imagine this as a pathetically lame excuse because the President had had time to spare to attend inauguration ceremonies and funerals outside the four corners of the country but could not make time for the “fourth arm of government”. Would such excuse have been spelled out if the President and his appointees had been summoned by parliament for questioning? It’s quite obvious. So then getting back to the preamble of this article, we tend to realize what law makers and politicians mean when they refer to the media as the fourth arm of government; a sorry piece of puppet driven along with tiny strands of fibers by the master puppeteer. Obviously the answer to the “Is that so?” question becomes a big gargantuan no.
If this system of government embraces the practice of checks and balances and separation of powers, why should the executive organ of government sabotage the media, supposedly forth arm of government in such manner? I can only deduce two statements from this scenario. Either the other arms of government are deliberately killing the functions of the media or the media is stooping so low to be manipulated. The case proceeds in the next paragraph.
Form the introductory remarks of the President during his second edition of his media encounter, he said “When we gathered here the last July for the first interaction with the media, I promised that I would endeavor for us to meet at least twice a year to have conversation about our nation and how the nation is doing.” The word “conversation” here was not anything metaphoric or figurative. From the very literal sense, conversation demands that all parties involved exchange oral remarks in the course.
Indirectly, it was a mischief on the part of the presidency to look down on some media men and disallow them to spell out queries owing to a claim that the time was limited. If that should be the case, then the executive organ indeed has less or no recognition for the true functions of the media. Somewhere in the third paragraph of the President’s introductory remarks of his second meeting with the press, he mentioned “I shall therefore not assign remarks or grades to myself or my government; an examinee does not mark his or her own.’’ That was a true statement from the President but was also hypocritical on his part not to allow the appropriate examiners- the media-to thoroughly examine him and his government by giving the excuse of time factor.
So the President calls for a meeting with the press and then he says I cannot take anymore questions because of injured time? This I regard as a pure insult and disrespect to the media and shouldn’t have occurred anywhere, let alone the seat of presidency. It is therefore an attempt by the executive to make the media think they recognize and respect their work but cannot give them any more time because of tight schedule. Could there be another word to describe this case other than political manipulation?
Is this how the government tends to treat people in the media who would even risk their lives to cover a gas explosion just to help save lives? When has there been a single attempt by the government to introduce certain policies to ensure the welfare of the media institutions and the individual media personnel? Don’t they deserve better like anyone else or any other government body? Coming to the media industry, despite all the bru-haa-ha that sparked against the government when some multimedia companies were shut down for non payment of certain operational levies, it all settled like a tidal wave at the sea shore. Everything turned out to be like nothing had happened. Did some political figures shut them down, did they compromise with the appropriate commissions or they could have probably taken bribe? Until now these questions remain unanswered but for a better political administration and accountability in governance, I call upon the media to stand fair and firm so they do not fall victims to political manipulations.
If this problem is well addressed, I’m sure both parties wouldn’t have any more aggression towards each other and a serene conducive environment would just evolve on its own for a proper discharge of duties. It shall be well with us.
Article written by
Linda Mensah and Ameyaw Michael