Sensationalism is rare in print media – Ben Ephson

Managing Editor of the Daily Dispatch Newspaper, Ben Ephson Managing Editor of the Daily Dispatch Newspaper, Ben Ephson

Managing Editor of the Daily Dispatch Newspaper, Ben Ephson, has admitted that professionalism in the media space has dwindled, especially in live journalism.

According to him, the media is losing its professionalism because many so-called professionals in the space have not received any form of formal education or expert training.

“Professionalism in the media space has dwindled because there are a lot of people in there who don’t have any training or are experts in the field,” he lamented in an interview with Samuel Eshun on e.TV Ghana’s Fact Sheet show.

He however believes these unprofessional media practitioners will be exposed and lose their credibility eventually. “Yes, there are unprofessionals in our noble profession. They can succeed to fool some people to a certain extent but it gets to a point they’ll be found out. Even if they write that today is Thursday and it really is, no one will believe them.”

Ben Ephson added that sensationalism in the media space is also on the rise especially on radio and television. “I think it happens more in live journalism where someone says it and it is gone. With print media, we go through the news and make sure the sensationalism is minimal but it flows more on TV and radio.”

In the milieu of democratic governance, the media plays a pivotal role in providing an inclusive and critical platform for public dialogue, demanding accountability from duty bearers and instigating policy-making that benefits a greater number of people. These responsibilities must, however, be delivered in the context of a set of ethical principles and professional standards as indicated in the Global Charter of Ethics for Journalists.

Journalism and media practice is guided by a set of principles, standards, and values, across the various platforms. The objective has been to promote adherence to professional competence and responsible use of information.

While there may exist hundreds of media/journalistic codes of conduct used internationally, key media ethical norms have always included decency, objectivity, accuracy, fairness, balance, respect for privacy, and protection of minors.

In 1993, at the onset of the 4th Republic, the media landscape was dominated by state-owned media until it was liberalised in 1996. Today, the media landscape is dominated by privately-owned media organisations with over 550 radio stations and about 150 TV stations, according to the National Communication Authority.

The country also has about 50 active newspapers, numerous news websites, and 48% of citizens who have access to the internet. This represents a marked improvement from what existed at the beginning of the 4th republic.

However, the growth in the media landscape has come with concerns of lowering professionalism and disregard for ethics. The falling standards in professionalism have resulted in waning public trust and confidence in the media and press freedom, with some sections of the population calling for government control, according to findings of the 2019 Afrobarometer report.

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