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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

GHANA TO HOST 2ND AFRICA OPEN DATA CONFERENCE IN JULY 2017

Accra, Ghana 24th May, 2017. Ghana has been selected to host the second Africa Open Data Conference (AODC) in July 2017. The four-day conference will be held at the Accra International Conference Centre from 17 – 21 July 2017.

The first edition of the AODC was organized by the Africa Open Data Collaborative in September 2015 in Tanzania hosted by the Government of Tanzania and its people and supported by the World Bank, Code for Africa, Global Open Data for Agriculture & Nutrition initiative, Worldwide Web Foundation, MCC, and numerous other partners.

The 2017 Africa Open Data Conference in Accra, Ghana is set to attract over 600 delegates drawn from all over Africa and the world at large. This auspicious event will push the leadership role of the private sector in supplying, using, and demanding open data, and bring together brilliant innovators and visionaries to grow their networks, hone their success, and connect with sources of support, and introduce investors and donors to an expanding sector that seeks and supplies open data to achieve development goals in Africa and across the globe.


Ghana is part of the Africa open data Community and signed unto the Open Government Partnership in September 2011, which sparked off a quest for Ghana to open-up its government data with some data now available at www.data.gov.gh

For more info and registration about the conference, please visit www.africaopendata.net  or  contact the secretariat via email address: secretariat@aodc-gh.org  or call +233-20-8128851/ 057-7605119

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Revised Code of Ethics for Ghanaian journalists launched

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has launched its revised Code of Ethics aimed at promoting professionalism in journalism practice in Ghana.


The objective of the revised Code of Ethics is to take cognisance of all the ethical breaches that have been identified in the practice of journalism in the country.


It would be recalled that in 1994, the GJA developed and adopted its Code of Ethics which has served the Association well through the period.

However, with the proliferation of media types, it had become necessary to revise the code to meet new challenges that have emerged in the intervening years.


The challenges include the impact of media pluralism and diversity, the emergence of social media and the sheer numbers of radio and television stations across the country.


The new GJA Code of Ethics is a ready guide that is applicable to all categories of journalists working with newspapers, radio, and television, cross media/multimedia, social media or those working as photo­ journalists, cartoonists, and animation specialists.

The code is meant to ensure that members of the Ghana Journalists Association adhere to the highest ethical standards, professional competence, and good behaviour in carrying out their duties.

It provides a frame of reference to the National Executive, the Ethics and Disciplinary Council, and members of the Association when it becomes necessary to initiate disciplinary action against any member who flouts any article of the code.

The panel, who put together the GJA revised Code of Ethics, were Dr Kweku Rockson, Consultant and Team Leader; Mr Yaw Boadu­Ayeboafoh, an accomplished Ethicist and Columnist; Mrs Gina Blay, a Publisher; Mr Kwami Ahiabenu, a New Media Expert and Teacher; Mr Fortune Alimi, Editor of a leading private newspaper; and Dr Doris Yaa Dartey, a veritable institution of media training and development.

Mr Mustapha Abdul­Hamid, the Minister of Information, who formally launched the revised GJA Code of Ethics, said it must serve as a launching pad to propel the journalism profession in the country into a better phase.

He said any association which had no ethics was not worth joining; saying; "it is our ethics that give us a sense of humanity'.

Mr Abdul­Hamid, himself a trained journalist, described the journalism profession as the best profession in the whole world, adding that journalism was essential for any democracy to succeed.

Mr Affail Monney, the President of the GJA, said the revised code had come at the right time to help cure the skyrocketing disease of ethical travesty across the media spectrum.

He urged journalists to regard the code as their professional Bibles and Qurans, declaring that; "devoid of any campaign drive, the new code is one of the legacies we bequeath to the media fraternity".

Mr Daniel Fennel, the Public Affairs Officer of the United States Embassy, urged journalists to continue to be honest, accurate and fair in their reportage. 

He said Ghana's credentials as the beacon of democracy in Africa would partly be attributed to its free and vibrant media.

Dr Kweku Rockson said the revised Code encompassed all challenges across the traditional, new media, social media and across media as far as newsgathering, processing and dissemination were concern."It is our considered view that this effort will inevitably promote accountability," he said.

Nana Gyan Apenteng, the Chairman of the National Media Commission, who chaired the launch, said over the past decade technological advancement such as the advent of social media had challenged the journalism profession.He said no matter the level of technological advancement, the journalism profession would always abide as a profession.Dr Lawrence Tetteh, an International Evangelist, said: "Anybody who lives without ethics has no future.


source : http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/revised-code-of-ethics-for-ghanaian-journalists-launched.html




Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ghana¹s Media Comes of Age in Elections Coverage

Media coverage of elections have come a long way since the transition elections of 1992. However, despite improvements, challenges still persist. Some commentators note that election coverage often fails to properly interrogate electoral issues, campaign promises and manifestos in a manner that demands accountability or enables the voters to make well-informed choices  at the polls. Also the ownership or control of media organizations by politicians  manifests in the biased editorial slant in favor of certain political parties, reflecting their allegiance to certain interest; be they private or state media houses. Also, the inability by newsroom staff to speak truth to power tends to undermine the quality of reportage in Ghana.

However, the media coverage of Ghana’s December 2016 elections was characterized by some noteworthy innovations that won the media plaudits from the public.  Some newsrooms, for example, set up a fact-checking service where key election issues and claims were cross-checked and thus ascertained to be true, partly true, or false. Also, some media houses took advantage of data journalism opportunities to tell compelling election stories using data-driven story-telling techniques, especially in the area of visualization. Indeed, many of the leading newsrooms relied heavily on new digital technologies, especially social media, not only to tell and source news stories but also to satisfy Ghanaians’ insatiable appetite for real time news.

On Election Day, the media played a crucial role in keeping citizens abreast of what was going on during and after voting had closed.  The battleground for most newsrooms was in regards to who was able to compile reliable provisional results of the elections ahead of the official announcement of the final results by the Electoral Commission of Ghana.  This service by the media was particularly useful since the Electoral Commission, due to a myriad of reasons, was considerably slow in releasing confirmed results.

Accra-based Joy-FM led the pack of media houses and distinguished itself when in the early hours of Friday, December 9, two days after the elections, and some 18 hours ahead of the EC, it projected Nana Akufo-Addo likely to win with about 53.35% of valid votes cast. Official results showed Akufo-Addo won by 53.85% of the votes. Joy-FM also impressed listeners when it challenged the EC commissioner’s claim of unusually low voter turnout of 49%. The station pointed out that that by its own calculations voter turnout was almost 20 percentage points higher at 68%, the figure eventually confirmed by the EC.

Still, the media in Ghana must continue to improve their performance in order to stay ahead of the curve. Looking into the future, elections in 2020 will prove even more challenging given the growing sophistication of Ghanaian news consumers. Other factors to watch include  the growth in new digital technologies and declining advertising revenue, which are eroding the influence of traditional news media.

Social Media Monitoring Supports Peaceful Elections 2016
Aggie Screenshot

 

New digital technologies, especially mobile phones and social media are playing a key role in enabling greater citizens’ participation in democratic processes as a whole and the electoral process specifically.

Looking back at Ghana’s 2012 elections, the social media evolution was at its infancy and had a low impact on the elections. Fast-forward to 2016, social media fueled by growth in Internet penetration and low-cost access devices, played a highly influential role in the elections.  There are more than 37 million (37,239,720) voice and close to 20 million (19,331,239) mobile data subscribers (National Communication Authority, September 2016,) with over 4 million active social media users in Ghana today.  The sheer volume and popularity of social media amongst the Ghanaian electorate was part of the reason John Kudalor, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) contemplated banning social media on election day. Mr. Kudalor was quoted in the media as arguing that placing a ban on social media was the only way the police could counter the activities of potential “troublemakers" who might deploy various social media tools and platforms to disrupt the electoral process.  The IGP was forced to back down and drop the idea of banning social media as a result of public and media protests. Instead Ghana’s security services sought the help of ICT experts to better monitor social media.

Penplusbytes, a not-for-profit organization promoting citizen participation in governance through the use of ICT, working with its partners Georgia Institute of Technology (George Tech) and the United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society (UNU-CS) rolled out a Social Media Tracking Centre (SMTC) for Ghana’s 2016 Elections, spanning over a 72-hour pre-elections period. The software at the heart of SMTC is Aggie (pictured above) which monitors real-time reports over cross media platforms (in this case Facebook, twitter and WhatsApp), using key words such as Election Irregularity, Misconduct, Fraud, Political Thugs, Polling Logistics, Results and Violence. Once the SMTC picked up a relevant trend, a team of 42 trained SMTC officials verified the report and directed it to Ghana’s Electoral Commission and National Elections Security Task Force for action.
Over its deployment period, SMTC generated 297,660 election-relevant reports, out of which 183 unique incidents were verified and then transferred to the appropriate election-relevant stakeholders. Most of these verified true incidents were related to polling logistics such as missing ballot papers, delayed voting and failures in biometric verification devices. Also, the SMTC picked up 18 incidents of violence, misconduct, and fraud that were verified as false. The fact checking capability of SMTC thus went a long way to dispel a lot of misinformation during the elections.
In conclusion, relying on the ability to listen in on conversations on social media through SMTC, working directly with the National Elections Security Task Force and the Coalition of Domestic Observers  (CODEO), went a long way to close the feedback loop between Ghanaian voters and relevant electoral authorities. It also helped prevent the spread of  misleading information, a key requirement for peaceful, credible, free and fair elections. 

About the Author

Kwami Ahiabenu II is Executive Director of Penplusbytes.