I’m delivering on my promise to continue with the talk Mr. Abdul Hayi Moomen, a presenter at Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) gave during a seminar based on the theme:” Ensuring Peaceful Elections;the role of student journalists” at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ).
Mr.Moomen continued his talk by highlighting on the role the media plays in promoting violence in our communities. He made reference to the murder of the Late Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon in 2002. As a result of this sad incident, a curfew was imposed on the town in order for peace to be maintained. He revealed that he was in Tamale working with a radio station by then when the incident occurred.
He attributed some causes of the violence after the murder incident, to an interesting scenario where two individuals,one belonging to the Abudu clan and the other affiliated to the Andani clan engage in a heated argument and a third party who witnesses the argument hastily makes an inductive generalization and concludes that Abudus and Andanis are fighting. Unfortunately, some media houses also broadcast the story without checking the veracity of the claims and in the long run members of the two ethnic groups in question end up fighting each other.
This scenario looks simple but it demonstrates how far irresponsible media reportage can end up escalating conflicts in our communities. I’ve had some encounters where I see some interesting newspaper headlines which strike my curiosity but upon buying it, the details of the story is totally in contrast with what the headline purports to say. It makes me wonder whether there are no media ethics governing the conduct of media practitioners and the effectiveness of the authorities established to check some of this irresponsible style of journalism.
Mr. Moomen sourced from another encounter he had in February 2009 at the national service headquarters in Tamale. Some volunteer workers of the secretariat picketed at the headquarters to protest against non-payment of monies due them after working for three months. A Senior Journalist who was standing beside him reported to a media house that, Tamale was on fire. This irresponsible reportage by the journalist caused the youth of the town to besiege the headquarters of the national service secretariat and went after the life of the regional coordinator because they believed he didn’t deserve the position in the first place.
At this point, I was just wondering what would make a journalist exaggerate a story that ends up putting someone’s life in danger? Someone might argue that it may be because the journalist hasn’t been to journalism school so he doesn’t know media ethics. I then ask myself, does someone need to go to a journalism school in order to learn how to tell the truth?
Mr.Moomen went further to demonstrate the effects of war and violence on the lives of innocent people by sharing an experience he had in Syria. He narrated a story of a man who as a result of the violence in Syria, lost his three children in a storm while fleeing from Syria to Jordan by canoe. He went further to talk about how he met some young children in Syria and in the course of a conversation with them, he asked them to express themselves by drawing what was on their mind. The first child drew a picture of a man running away from a house with bags in hand. To this child, his reality of life is to always run from danger. Another child drew a picture of a woman holding a dead baby. This picture depicts the child’s reality. The next child drew a picture of a little boy sitting by a clock and gazing at it.
It was at this moment I realized the enormity of violence on the lives of innocent people. I came to the realization that, some monsters that we have in society are the products of the deep scars inflicted on their minds by violence. They have lost hope and have nothing to live for. These are the type of children that terrorist groups like ISIS prey on their vulnerability and indoctrinate them into causing havoc to humanity.
Mr.Moomen later highlighted on how sometimes journalists, ignore some newsworthy stories and focus their lenses on stories that are of no good to society. He inferred from an incident where the Wife of the Vice President turned down a request for chalks made by the headmistress of a school she donated computers to. A lot transpired on that occasion but a larger section of the media chose to focus on her refusal to grant the headmistress’s request.
Abdul Hayid Moomen couldn’t have said it much better. I recall how a larger section of the media focused their attention on a female coat the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress(NDC),Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketia wore while he was on a state visit to Germany with President Mahama. I believe a lot transpired during that state visit but a larger section of the media chose to focus more on the female coat.
Fast forward to recently, a picture of President Mahama using a device that looked like a power bank inserted into his phone at a corruption summit in London went Viral on social media and some media entities uploaded it onto their social media page.
- All these instances show how true the Agenda Setting Theory in media is being put to play in Ghana.Agenda-setting theory of media states that mass media determines the issues that concern the public rather than the public’s views.
- Under this theory, the issues that receive the most attention from media become the issues that the public discusses, debates, and demands action on.
- This means that the media is determining what issues and stories the public thinks about. Therefore, when the media fails to address a particular issue, it becomes marginalized in the minds of the public.
At this juncture, I draw the curtains down on the insightful talk delivered by Mr.Abdul Hayi Moomen. I hope we all take a cue from all that he pointed out in order to promote peace and Unity in Ghana.