Minister of Information
Members of NMC
Executive Secretary of NMC
President and executives of GJA
Fellow journalists
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
Good morning to you all

We have gathered here for a very simple task this morning; to launch the Code of Ethics of the GJA. I wish to thank the GJA executive committee not only for inviting me to chair this function but also making me a member of the review panel which produced the first draft of this code. I congratulate the GJA for having the courage to review this code at a time when for a complex number of reasons ethics in journalism faces its biggest challenge. I also commend all those who took part in the review process.

Dear friends, over the past few decades, new forms of technology and changes in society and social behaviour have challenged all the basic assumptions of journalism, especially the hierarchies of control and command that we grew up with in the newsroom. Today, citizen journalism which includes the idea of one person one camera has created new opportunities for gathering and disseminating information and with those come new and sometimes very difficult challenges.

The rise of social media, in some people’s eyes, has made obsolete and redundant the very idea of codes because if everyone can provide information as and how it suits them and disseminate to a worldwide audience at the click of a button, who is going to enforce a code of ethics. Today, it has become a race to the bottom; it is about seeking attention.

Fortunately, many of us in the business believe that no matter the extent of technological disruption, journalism essentially remains unchanged. A few things must always underline the practice of our profession. It is about seeking the truth, taking personal responsibility and minimizing harm.

 Dear friends, journalism is not about who can shout loudest or whose voice we hear first. It is about truth seeking, and so is the law. Therefore respect for law and ethics is the mark of “professionalism”. The basis of any profession is its underlying ethics of practice and ours is no different. But our responsibilities go much further than just ensuring good behaviour because our ethical framework enjoins upon us to be accountable. The central questions are the following:
 What do I know?
What do I need to know?
What is my journalistic purpose? 
What are my ethical concerns?
What organizational policies and professional guidelines should I consider?
How can I include other people, with different perspectives and diverse ideas, in the decision-making process?
Who are the stakeholders -- those affected by my decision?
What are their motivations?
Which are legitimate?
Above all, what are the possible consequences of my actions?

Dear friends, these are some of the questions that those who frame ethical codes have to have in mind. In drawing up this code, I know that one guiding principle was simplicity and making the code comprehensible to journalists and the public.

I believe that the code of ethics will mean nothing if they are not enforced, which is why I have advocated many times the institution of an ombudsman system by which every media house polices its own ethical practices. This is not the time and place to expand on that; there will be time for that.

The point is that what we are doing here today is critically important. In Ghana, ethical codes form the basis of the constitutional self-regulatory mechanism which ensures that the government has no role in regulating, let alone controlling the media.

In Ghana, ethical codes form the basis of the constitutional self-regulatory mechanism which ensures that the government has no role in regulating, let alone controlling the media. In that sense, we are affirming one of the main pillars of our constitution and democratic rule.

My advice, in conclusion, is for the GJA to organise a massive public education process immediately after launching the code. While a rolling stone gathers no moss, a pile of ethical codes stack in a corner gathers too much dust.

Thank you making me the chairman for this important occasion.


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