On this World Press Freedom Day, Penplusbytes wishes to congratulate all journalists who have over the years defended democratic ideals through their commitment to unravelling and telling the truth. We acknowledge this is a critically important time to commend the contributions of journalists.
From violent extremists and criminal gangs who kidnap and kill reporters to dictatorial governments that persecute them, press freedom is constantly under attack.
This year’s celebration, highlighting the links between press freedom, a culture of openness and the right to freedom of information, and sustainable development in the digital age, brings to bear the need for both offline and online protection for journalists.
The influx of digital and online tools and the resultant growth of the electronic and other media, should mean that there is considerable freedom to report on virtually all topics.
However, even in countries where there are freedom of information laws or legal provisions, journalists have difficulties accessing, understanding, and subsequently using the raw data or information. This is where data journalism can play a role in accessing and interrogating data and mashing up datasets to produce news that inform audiences.
Furthermore, press freedom is confronted by increasing challenges of randomly blocking access to online information, limiting or punishing cyber-expression, and intrusions on digital privacy. These adversely impact on online journalists, users who express themselves online, and also on those who receive online information indirectly through multi-step flows.
According to the 2016 world press freedom index, the situation of journalists in Ghana has worsened since 2014 although the country epitomizes democracy in the sub region.
Ranking 26th out of 180 countries, Ghana’s place on the index dropped compared to its 22nd ranking in 2015.
The report attributed the drop to recent attacks on journalists due to a climate of impunity and flawed media legislation. This amplifies concerns raised about the passing of the right to information bill and how this bill when passed into law will enhance journalism.
So in the words of Christophe Deloire, the secretary general of Reporters without Borders, we reiterate that, “Journalism worthy of the name must be defended against the increase in propaganda and media content that is made to order or sponsored by vested interests.”
Once again, we at Penplusbytes congratulate journalists for their hard work in promoting good governance and giving voice to voiceless.
We hope Ghanaian journalists will redouble their efforts and take advantage of new opportunities to tell compelling stories including the use of new digital technologies.
Penplusbytes as the leading institution for promoting effective governance using technology in africa is ever equipped to help, as we always do, the media and journalists do their work better.
Penplusbytes is a not-for-profit organization driving change through innovations in three key areas: using new digital technologies to enable good governance and accountability, new media and innovations, and driving oversight for effective utilisation of mining, oil and gas revenue and resources.