Call for licensing of journalists misplaced, it will suppress free speech-Fmr NMC Chair

Former Chair, National Media Commission (NMC), Nana Gyan Kwesi Apenteng, has disagreed with persons who have suggested that journalists must be licensed before they practice.

Responding to a question on whether he agrees with the school of thought that journalists must be licensed, he said that could amount to the suppression of the fundamental rights to free speech.

“Speaking exclusively to Rainbow Radio 87.5Fm, the work of journalists is fundamental and guaranteed by the constitution of Ghana.

Our job as journalists is premised on the freedom of expression, and so if you say you want to license journalists then that could suppress free speech.

The second point is that when you licence journalists, you would appoint someone or a body to supervise the process. Who will appoint that individual? The person could be affiliated to a political party and agree with them on who to be licenced or to den?. That is the fear.”

He was however quick to add that there should be a system to ensure only qualified and skilled persons are employed as journalists by media houses.

He explained that there should be some kind of system to check the proficiency, competence, and training of persons who would want to work as journalists.

“If we all agree that there is the need for some technical parameters and a way to ensure that journalists are properly trained, it will be helpful,” he added.

He was speaking on the sidelines at a story development boot camp organized by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) for some selected journalists.

The story development bootcamps have so far been held in Accra, Kumasi, and Tamale this year alone.

The bootcamps allow the participating journalists to brainstorm, share ideas and learn from the experiences of some of Ghana’s finest multimedia journalists.

They are also avenues for the journalists to upgrade their skillsets in areas of data and mobile journalism and the production of human-interest stories.

As part of the story development sessions with the journalists, the bootcamps have also been focusing on training the participants on audience engagement and targeting, and how to use Ghana’s right to information (RTI) law to request information.

The bootcamps adopted participatory engagement strategies which ensured that the participants acquired knowledge and shared experiences in group works and presentations.

The five-day residential story development bootcamps for journalists form part of the MFWA’s project on Enhancing Citizens Access to Information and Participation in Governance which is being implemented with funding support from the DW Akademie based in Germany.

By: Rashid Obodai Provencal/

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