2021 Press Freedom Rankings: Acceptance of international assessments without questioning is neocolonial, betrayal of lack of faith in ourselves – Prof. Gyampo
Professor Ransford Yaw Gymapo, senior lecturer at Ghana’s premier university, The University of Ghana has expressed his opinion on the Press Freedom Ranking 2021.
The Reporters Without Borders have ranked Ghana 60th out of 180 countries in their 2021 Press Freedom Rankings. This is the country’s lowest position in nearly two decades from an initial 30th position.
Many Ghanaians, including politicians, journalists, academicians and opinion leaders have since expressed the worry about the ranking but the government has attributed the poor ranking to change in methodology.
Prof. Yaw Gyampo has responded to the ranking in a Facebook post made today, Saturday, May 7, 2022.
“In my line of work as an academic, I value peer assessment and reviews from both local and international experts”, he wrote.
However, Prof. Gyampo believes assessment of Ghana’s democracy and media freedom must be done and fully appreciated locally since ‘we understand the issues better’.
To him, international assessment must only come to confirm what Ghanaians already know.
“In this regard, our penchant for swallowing hook, line and sinker, every international assessment, without questioning them, in a manner that creates the impression that only international assessments are valid, is neocolonial and a betrayal of lack of faith in ourselves as a people”, Prof. Gyampo stated.
He said that although some local assessors may be bias, there are still some more competent ones “than some of the ignorant foreign informants who are used to collect data about our country’.
The academician is therefore calling for “a proper blend between local and foreign assessments in a manner that doesn’t make us always beholding to only what foreigners tell us as being the gospel truth on every matter’.
He said from his monitoring of responses from media practitioners in Ghana since the release of the Raking, it appears there is consensus that indeed the “press has truly not been entirely free for sometime now’, and to him as a nationalist, it is what the local media practitioners are saying that Ghanaians must put premium on, as a sovereign nation.
“If the press isn’t free, culpability would be placed at the door step of those who wield power, authority and influence within and outside government”, he stated while adding that
“But since a ranking of higher press freedom would have been touted as achievement by government, the bucks must stop with same government in addressing the issues that undermine press freedom”.
He however cautioned that even as we defend press freedom, he must be careful not to make some people “tin-gods and tin-goddesses” in the process.
“We must condemn the disingenuous attacks of social media political land guards and call on government to be more tolerant”, Prof. Yaw Gyampo intimated
He advised that “The public utterances and body language of higher public officials, particularly the President of the Republic, from now onwards, must admit the challenges we face and send a clear message of intolerance for acts that undermine press freedom”.
He called on Ghanaians to reject any attempt at foisting media tyranny on the country’s democratic practice.
“It must be made clear to media practitioners that they cannot also be above the law, simply because they have access to certain platforms that others do not have”, he indicated.
He cautioned media practitioners to rethink sensationalism and deliberate attempts to lie, dent reputations and the refusal to properly retract and apologize with impunity.
These, the Professor said, can always serve as a recipe for actions from all quarters to undermine press freedom.
He emphasized the fact that no nation can climb higher the ladder of democratic progression with a stifled press. As such, “if even the President of the land cannot be above the law, then SOME media practitioners cannot foist the acceptance of media tyranny on our democratic practice, and arrogate to themselves the right to be immune from criticisms”.
“So, while the government has a role to play to address the current poor show in terms of media freedom, media practitioners themselves must also have a role to play in terms of being responsible while freely going about their work. For, media freedom can never be licentious for media tyranny”, he concluded.
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