NewsBridge Africa, a non-profit media training, advocacy and mentoring organisation, would hold a two-day media training for journalists in the three northern regions, aimed at strengthening the capacities of journalists in the regions.
The training, organised in conjunction with Ghana Business News and sponsored by the United States Embassy, would bring together a team of qualified and experienced professionals to share knowledge and experience with participants from September 16-17, 2016.
On the theme: “How to pitch a story and tell it better,” the training would seek to educate participants on the basic essentials of journalism including how to pitch a story, storytelling, social media activism and ethics of journalism.
Mr Emmanuel Dogbevi, Managing Editor of Ghana Business News and Executive Director of NewsBridge Africa, said the residential training would also identify the inherent opportunities in journalism as a mechanism for change and good governance, as well as identify the relevance of new media and how to use it efficiently.
He said despite the plurality of media in Ghana, the country’s position on the World Press Freedom Index of Reporters without Borders had deteriorated, falling from 22 on the 2015 index to 26 on the 2016 Index out of 180 countries.
Ghana’s status on the Freedom House Index has been downgraded from Free to Partly Free.
“In addition to these developments, the media landscape has continuously faced credibility challenges and has to a large extent not evolved beyond politics, starving the population of the necessary information for progress,” he said.
Mr Dogbevi expressed the need for good public interest journalism, which is dire in the three northern regions that always feature at the lower rung of the development ladder.
He said high standards of journalism could be used to address poverty in these areas, thus the need for the training.
Ms Sara V. Stealy, Press Attaché at the US Embassy in Accra told the GNA that her country believes that a free, fair and professional press corps is crucial to democracy.
In line of this the US has supported Ghanaian professional media organisations to sponsor training that helps the local media fulfil their important role.
“The media are particularly important during elections. They convey information from candidates to voters, but the media’s role goes beyond simply transcribing what is said in a speech or a press release.
“Journalists have a responsibility to question what is said; to analyse it and fact check it; and to present that information to voters so they can make an informed decision on Election Day about who best represents their vision for Ghana’s future.
“We believe all Ghanaians benefit when we work together to sharpen journalists’ skills, and we’re pleased NewsBridge Africa has developed this programme,” she stated.
She noted that journalism has seen tremendous change in recent years due to technology and social media and journalists, like any other professionals, have to stay abreast of changes and take responsibility for their own professional growth by seeking out opportunities to develop new skills and to refresh the basics.
Ms. Stealy notes that while Ghana has a lively media scene and was recognized and lauded for its press freedom, media here faced many of the same challenges faced by media around the world, including, how to be profitable and sustainable in a competitive environment; how to successfully combine traditional and digital reporting; and how to produce solid, intelligent stories in a ‘click bait’ environment.
She said the training will help reinvigorate journalists’ commitment to their responsibility to question and fact-check candidate claims and promises and provide balanced, issues-based stories to help voters decide who to vote for, instead of getting caught up in personalities and rhetoric.
“At the same time, voters have a responsibility to demand that type of reporting and to make a conscious choice to consume responsible, issues-based reporting,” she stressed, adding, “NewsBridge Africa brings a wealth of practical experience and academic study to this programme. We hope that journalists will come away with a renewed sense of purpose about telling important, issues-based stories and that they’ll come away with improved skills and knowledge about how to pursue and tell those stories so Ghanaian voters feel informed as they head to the polls in December.”