Search

 

Cablegate: Ghanaian Media Shape Peaceful Election

R 121129Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY ACCRA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7378

UNCLAS ACCRA 001562


STATE FOR AF/PD, AF/W, AF/FO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AF GH KPAO

SUBJECT: GHANAIAN MEDIA SHAPE PEACEFUL ELECTION

SUMMARY: Contrary to general concern that some
news outlets, especially radio, might stir
violent reactions before, during and after
Ghana's presidential elections, the local media
covered Election Day and immediate results with
professionalism and even-handedness, encouraging
a peaceful public response. Embassy Accra played
a role. END SUMMARY.

1. Radio a Cause for Joy: During the months
leading up to Ghana's presidential elections many
elements of Ghanaian society, not least of all
the media itself, were critical of the
inflammatory tone of political news coverage.
The largest complaint was reserved for radio
station call-in programs, which allowed random
and "serial" callers to make inappropriate
statements and incited angry responses. (Reftel
Accra 1510). Throughout Election Day, however,
media sources carried out their role
professionally.

2. Most notably, Accra station Joy FM (full
national coverage) took the lead for all media in
presenting balanced, factual, and appropriate
news. Embassy Accra found Joy's online
tabulation of results to be reliable, and posted
more swiftly than results from the Electoral
Commission (EC). On air, Joy and other media
adamantly clarified, at every turn, the fact that
any results being announced were "provisional" or
"projected", and reminded callers, including
party officials, to attach these words to their
statements.

3. GJA Takes a Stand: Following Election Day the
two major parties called press conference after
press conference, bandying about their own
numbers and assertions of victory. The Ghana
Journalists Association (GJA) put a stop to this
by announcing a ban on further press conferences,
insisting that their elections headquarters would
no longer be available for news conferences by
any political party, thus quelling public
accusations.

4. The National Media Commission (NMC) was given
prominent placement in print and on radio for
their call to the media against speculating about
the results. The NMC took pains to remind the
public, especially journalists, that the EC was
the only credible source from which results
should be taken.

5. State-owned media, represented in print by the
Daily Graphic and the Ghanaian Times, and on-air
by the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, did an
outstanding job of ensuring that each party
received equal daily coverage. When measured
against the number of votes received by the
smaller parties (between 1.4% and .08% for six of
the eight parties) this self-discipline in
providing coverage to the smaller parties is
remarkable. Some concern exists about the number
of paid advertisements and program-length
infomercials the ruling party was able to air on
state television prior to the elections; however,
the news coverage was equitable.

6. Embassy role: Embassy outreach provided some
assistance to the media for fulfilling their
mandate of responsible journalism. These include
the five workshops by U.S. freelance journalist
Herb Frazier, whose August visit trained
journalists in elections reporting in four
regions of Ghana; the October visit by U.S.
political system speakers Roslyn O'Connell and
David Lublin, whose lectures tied the U.S.
Elections process with the Ghanaian Elections
process; several Ghanaian media participants in
the Foreign Press Center elections tours to study
coverage of the U.S. elections; and a grant to
the NMC to produce Guidelines for Fair and
Equitable Coverage of Political Parties by the
State-Owned Media.

8. Two weeks before the elections, AMB convened
eight senior news editors from print, radio,
television and electronic media for a lunch and
general conversation. The most significant
discussion to arise involved the media's plans
for announcing election results. The
participants came at the discussion from
divergent views and, after much friendly
disagreement, arrived at the consensus that
regardless of how each news outlet chose to
announce results, the words "provisional" or
"projected" needed to be attached, and that the
EC was the sole authority to provide certified
results. It seemed at the time that the media
heavies had not previously discussed or openly
considered this facet of elections journalism; by
the time E-Day came around, however, it was clear
that Ghana's media had considered every aspect of
promoting a peaceful election.


DGTEITELBAUM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Syria: Economic Decline, Rising Hunger And Surging Humanitarian Needs

Syria’s fragile economy has “suffered multiple shocks” over the past 18 months, with its currency plummeting and joblessness swelling as people struggle to cover their basic needs, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council ... More>>

OECD: Final Quarter Of 2020 Shows Continued Recovery In G20 International Merchandise Trade

G20 international merchandise trade continued to rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020 ( exports up 7.2% and imports up 6.8%), following the sharp falls seen in the first half of 2020, as lockdown measures affected trade globally. Although growth ... More>>

UN Report: Civilian Casualties Surged After Peace Talks Began In Afghanistan

Monitoring by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, and the UN Human Rights Office has revealed that despite a drop in civilians killed and injured overall in 2020 there was a rise in civilian casualties following the start of peace negotiations ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs


2021: Critical Year To ‘reset Our Relationship With Nature’ – UN Chief

During this time of “crisis and fragility”, the UN chief told the United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday that human well-being and prosperity can be vastly improved by prioritizing nature-based solutions. Painting a picture of the turmoil ... More>>


Paris Agreement: UN Secretary-General António Guterres To Mark U.S. Reentry With Envoy For Climate John Kerry

Watch live at webtv.un.org UN Secretary-General António Guterres will join U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry at an event marking the United States’ reentry into the Paris Agreement this Friday. The discussion with the Secretary-General ... More>>

WeBeliev: Scoop In Conversation With Abhishek Sinha, Founder Of WeBeliev, An NZ Crowdfunding Platform

WeBeliev supports 17 SDGs, launching sector specific campaigns every month Q. What is WeBeliev and why did you start it? A. WeBeliev is a Singapore-registered crowdfunding platform aimed at fundraising for all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ... More>>