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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) reviews code of ethics

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) is in the process of reviewing its code of ethics for journalists in the country, in conformity with the emerging dynamics in media practice in the country. 

According to the GJA, the review had become necessary in the light of the proliferation of radio and television stations, newspapers, social media and allied media outlets, which has made the media landscape a complex one and difficult to manage. 

The last time a code of ethics was formulated for the GJA was in 1994, with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) of Germany. 

In connection with this, a brainstorming session was organised for experts in the media industry to come out with preliminary findings for the drafting of a final document to guide the performance of the media in the country. 

The President of the GJA, Mr Affail Monney, said journalism had gone through several complexities and for which reason the code of ethics needed to be reshaped to stand the test of time. 

He also said a new code of ethics would help journalists to perform creditably and professionally.

The Coordinator of the review committee, Mr Kweku Rockson, said the agenda of the review committee was based on inclusiveness. 

He also said the committee would collate views and add value from stakeholders. 

Mr Rockson said the committee hoped to fashion out a coherent code of ethics that considered new technologies and the new media landscape.


Country Director of FES, Mr Fritz Kopsieker, said his outfit was operating in 100 countries to promote security, social democracy and economic development and that Ghana was one of the partners, hence their involvement in the consultation to review the code of ethics. 

He added that a code of ethics was needed for the media in Ghana, considering the challenges of the 2016 elections and the fact that through a validation exercise, a feasible approach would evolve for the Ghanaian media to follow. 

The Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, thanked the FES for supporting the review of the code of ethics. 

He noted that the core mandate of the of NMC was to ensure high journalistic standards in the country, especially when the landscape was very large. 

Mr Gyan-Apenteng also expressed the belief that the new code would help those at the frontline to practise journalism with decorum. 

The Director of Newspapers at the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, asked media practitioners to act professionally and ethically to gain the trust and confidence of the citizenry, just like other professionals in the country. 

He also said the deliberations of the review committee might be declared the "Ho declaration" in the annals of the GJA and that should encourage media practitioners in the region to adopt best practices. 

Members of the review committee are the Editor of the Ghanaian Times and General Secretary of the GJA, Mr Dave Agbenu; a social media consultant, Mr Kwami Ahiabenu; a lecturer at the University of Professional Studies, Accra Mr Rockson; the GJA President, Mr Monney; the President of PRINPAG, Madam Gina Blay; the Chairman of the NMC, Mr Gyan–Apenteng and the Director of Newspapers at GCGL, Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh.





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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Evidence : Success of Connecting Citizens to Parliament Project by @penplusbytes

"The Committee on Government Assurances was established to play an oversight role of the Executive arm of government in Ghana. We were faced with the challenge of interacting effectively with citizens and getting their valuable feedback on project delivery statuses. You can understand our excitement when we started the Connecting Citizens to Parliament Project in partnership with Penplusbytes to implement an innovative mechanism of connecting citizens to Parliament, using new digital technologies including SMS, an online portal, a Mobile App and WhatsApp. Our work was more efficient as, for the first time ever, we had a dedicated website on which citizens could report on projects within their communities and reach out to us via an integrated media system about other governance issues that they had concerns with. The project also equipped our committee members with technology, information and knowledge management skills. We call on all stakeholders to support us, sustain the success chalked by 'Connecting Citizens to Parliament' project to ensure that the Parliament of Ghana can continue to interact with even more of our citizens"

-- Hon. Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah – Member of Parliament, Ho West Constituency and Chair Committee on Government Assurances


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Monday, April 11, 2016

Do we need a social media policy?

By Kwami Ahiabenu, II @kwamigh 

The world is changing rapidly. These changes are happening in part due to the exponential growth in global communication networks, particularly the Internet, which has seen the application and diffusion of new digital technologies in both developed and developing economies.
One of the most popular changes is social media. It refers to online platforms and applications that enable users to interact through the generation and sharing of content glued together by group dynamics. It is important to note that social networking dates back to the creation of the world.
Therefore social media can be seen to be empowering users to expand an age old activity in a profound manner. Currently, social media applications are seen in all aspects of human undertakings. 
There are a thousand and one social media tools in use around the world  with  Facebook( 1,100,000,000), Twitter (310,000,000), LinkedIn (255,000,000), Pinterest (250,000,000) and Google Plus+ 120,000,000 commanding the top five positions in that order based on Estimated Unique Monthly Visitors according to http://www.ebizmba.com/ as of February 1, 2016 .
Social Media is Powerful 
There are divergent views on just how 'powerful' social media is.  Some say it is not as influential as it is being made to be because there is relatively a limited number of social media users across the globe. This argument does not hold much water considering the pace with which it is dominating communication and social networking. Also, social media currently has constant interaction with traditional media such as newspapers, radio, and television stations who are now increasingly sourcing content from social media and amplifying these on their news platforms. For example, a story: "NDC's Fritz Baffour slams gov't over Gitmo saga", which ended up on a number of radio stations was sourced from Mr Baffour's Facebook entry (http://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2016/January-15th/ndcs-fritz-baffour-condemns-decision-to-accept-gitmo-two.php). This practice ensures that social media content spreads faster than bush fire in a harmattan season, crossing over into traditional media forms and thereby reaching persons without access to digital tools. 
Policy matters 
Individuals can consider developing a policy which will guide their behaviour on social media. Some individuals choose to make their whole life visible on social media, sharing very personal information online while others decide to maintain a low profile by only providing the barest minimum of personal information as they interact on social media. 
The lack of policy guidelines on social media usage at the national level is contributing to a lot of misinformation and often, false information sharing on social media platforms. A recent case in point is the distribution of a list of ministerial reshuffle on social media which was subsequently picked by some journalists and aired on some radio and TV stations. This phantom list later proved to be a figment of someone's imagination. Though policies cannot curb all challenges with information flow on social media, it can provide a mechanism to test the efficacy of government information distributed on such platforms. 
Currently, the Government of Ghana is mainly using social media as a tool for one way communication, although there is a wealth of opportunities to be derived from using social media to effectively engage citizens. Apart from a few government ministries, departments and agencies who are making limited use of social media, majority of them have not woken up to take advantage of its power. 
The Government of Ghana can help by developing policy directives to ensure greater control and usage by its institutions. Beyond policy options, some have argued for controls or laws to regulate the use of social media. This argument is problematic because the animal of social media cannot be easily tamed. With exception to countries such as China with its great Firewall, which gives them absolute control over social media, and the United States of America with its capacity to monitor all electronic communication including social media; it is fairly complex, expensive and difficult to invest resources in controlling social media. Nigeria is attempting to introduce a social media law and only time will tell whether this legislative instrument will be passed at all and how successful it will be when it is indeed passed. 
Judicial and legislative arms of governments are also making slow progress in terms of leveraging social media. Overall, the media in Ghana is leading the pack in the utilisation of social media not only in news generation but distribution and audience engagement. However, most media houses again do not have social media policies nor written strategies to ensure its effective utilisation.
Some businesses in Ghana, especially the multinationals, do not only have a policy but a plan and budget to ensure they can use social media for competitive advantage. In this direction, there are specialised agencies that are providing services to such businesses. The public sector can learn from this example. 
On the other hand, some NGOs, religious organisations, societies, clubs have climbed on the social media bandwagon. Although most of them do not have any strategies, plan or policy to guide their usage. 
How should a social media policy look like?
Social media policy, plan or strategy, code of conduct or rules of engagement preferably should be written. However, it should not be an overly complex and long document. Also, it is important to make it a living document so that it can be adapted to changes in recognition of how fluid the social media space is. 
Although it will be difficult to provide universal guidelines on the use of social media due to peculiar requirements of different organisations, a good policy should have some of these characteristics:
• encouraging of the use of social media, 
• dealing with conflict of interests
• ensuring personal social media accounts do not compromise the institution, difference between speaking 'on behalf of'  institution and speaking 'about'  institution, 
• duty of care of not misleading audiences or revealing confidential information, 
• how to be mindful and act in the best interests of institution and respect privacy, 
• providing clear path of authority, regulations and processes,  
• separating facts from opinions, 
• proper communication with children or young persons , 
• how to understand potential grey situations, 
• how to use social media in crisis situation or natural disaster, 
• ground for dismissal in not following guidelines 
In sum, social media is here to stay; no one can escape its impact. In the next couple of years as social media evolves, its power and range will impact every Ghanaian directly. Individuals, all arms of governments, media, non- profit organisations, businesses and other institutions need to invest in understanding how they can harness its power, mitigate the risks that come with its usage and develop strategies to maximise the numerous opportunities it can offer.

 

source :  http://www.graphic.com.gh/features/opinion/61262-do-we-need-a-social-media-policy.html#sthash.0hOzW2xf.dpuf

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Penplusbytes to Share Experience in Extractives at 2016 Sub-Sahara Africa Upstream Oil & Gas Summit & Exhibition


Penplusbytes is participating in the next edition of the Sub-Sahara Africa Upstream Oil and Gas Summit and Exhibition to be held in Accra, Ghana from 6th – 8th April 2016 with the theme "Preparing for the Challenges of Changing Times".

This is to give Penplusbytes, which plays a leading role in the extractive industry insight provision, networking of key actors and international media training, an opportunity to interact with other players in the upstream oil and gas industry.

The conference is expected to attract top industry players from across Africa and beyond with forty participating organizations and eighteen speakers. Key amongst which include Chris Bredenhann of Partner Pricewater Coopers, South Africa and Head of PwC Africa Oil and Gas Desk, Victor Eromosele, an oil and gas industry expert who has been in the career for more than 33 years, holding 19 management positions and Sim Katende, a legal advisor to the Government on the procurement of a lead investor to develop Uganda's first greenfield oil refinery.

There will be specialist breakout sessions for subject matter experts to discuss and harmonise industry best practices and emerging issues in subsea technologies, partnership and finance and investment.

Penplusbytes will also be exhibiting expertise in the use of new digital technologies that has enhanced the work of journalists reporting on the sector through trainings, online & social media integration, information, events and publications.

Experiences and knowledge gathered from working in Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Liberia and field experiences in Cameroon, Cote D'Ivoire, and Nigeria will also be showcased.

The exhibition will also provide opportunities for other established oil and gas companies, government agencies, services providers, equipment manufacturers and new entries to network and showcase their possibilities.

According to organisers, the summit is Africa's unique platform for exchange of ideas and exploration of mutually beneficial opportunities by the oil and gas community and this year's edition will particularly focus on how the industry can develop robust systems and processes that will enable it cope with changing challenges.

The executive director of Penplusbytes, Kwami Ahiabenu, II, commenting on Penplusbytes participation in the upstream industry event said, "we consider it important to interact with industry players as we work to provide better services to our audience and this event affords us a unique opportunity share as well as gather new trends and technologies that are helping address the challenges facing the industry in these times".

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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