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Pratt blasts "partisan" media coverage of election petition hearing
From: Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | George Nyavor          Published On: May 11, 2013, 13:25 GMT
 
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Pratt blasts

Kwesi Pratt

Kwesi Pratt, Editor of the Insight newspaper on Saturday took on the state-owned media, particularly Daily Graphic, describing its coverage of hearing of the election petition as awfully partisan.

According to him, the state-owned newspaper "deliberately" devoted page 15 of the May 11th 2013 edition to the New Patriotic Party (NPP), a faction in the electoral disputes. Mr. Pratt said the newspaper published five photographs which sought to depict what happened at the Supreme Court on Thursday but ended up giving more space to the NPP.

Speaking on Radio Gold's Alhaji and Alhaji programme on Saturday, Mr. Pratt questioned the professional standards which influenced the “pictorial reporting” in the May 11th 2013 edition of the Daily Graphic newspaper.

He charged the National Media Commission (NMC) to take its responsibility of appointing Directors of state-owned media more seriously.

“It is very important especially at this time when the National Media Commission has the responsibility to make changes in the Directorship of the state media", he said.

The social commentator said he can understand if other private newspapers, including his own, report in a manner reflecting their political stance, but for a state-owned media to show any level of bias, is wrong.

According to him, the state-owned media has a special constitutional responsibility to the people of Ghana because they are operated with tax payers’ money.

“Indeed if the state media was playing its role accurately, it could become the reference point for news about what is happening”, he stated.

In his view, the level of reportage of the election petition in the state-owned media is not up to standard in terms of objectivity, describing it unsatisfactory.

He suspects dictatorial editorial leadership as the cause of this partisan skew in the state-owned media.

According to the Editor, the state media, giving the special role assigned to it by the 1992 constitution must give Ghanaians an objective reporting of what is happening in the court, but he believes the situation is a “total mess”.

Mr Pratt also condemned the coverage and analysis of the Supreme Court proceedings in the private media.

“One of the rules or laws governing the proceedings in court has to do with the Law of Contempt and the Law of Contempt is clear that contempt may be committed in the face of the court, that is inside the court or outside the court”, he said.

But the matter before the court, in Pratt's view, has been discussed in ways which have absolutely ignored the rules governing such discussions.

One of the most cardinal rules is that people commenting on the proceedings have to do so without pre-judging the case, but that’s not the situation in the Ghanaian media, he observed.

In his view, “people like us…can afford to make mistakes in our commentary on the basis of our ignorance of the tenets of the law.

“But lawyers, especially lawyers appearing before the court have absolutely no excuse whatsoever to make these errors”, he opined.

He said the Petitioners have repeatedly made statements suggesting the Presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party will be made President of Ghana in a matter of time.

“Indeed there was one of the communicators of the party who actually gave a date on which Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will become President of the Republic of Ghana”, he recalled.

The situation in the coverage of the election petition in Pratt’s view is that, it is those who dominate radio, who will either skew the proceedings or give an accurate impression of what is happening in the court.

“But unfortunately, the coverage of the proceedings has been so partisan that nobody is getting a fair view of what is happening in the court” he stressed.


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