- Ghana has been known for upholding freedoms of press and expression as evidenced by the proliferation of airwaves and print publications. But there are indications that Ghanaian journalists are losing their enjoyed freedoms as private persons and businesses act more violently against negative reporting.
Attacks on press officers is now commonplace in Ghana, although in some cases aggrieved members of the community take the law into their hands and assault journalists for "bad publicity".
Anti-media feud is developed to the extent that journalists are now booted out of press conferences. A practical case happened on 4 December, when the managing editor and reporter of 'Gye Nyame Concord' - Alfred Ogbamey and Samuel Asamoah - were prevented from covering a news conference organised by Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).
The press conference had been called by the GPHA in response to a teaser carried in the 29 November edition of the privately owned bi-weekly newspaper 'Gye Nyame Concord', headlined "$16 million Scandal at GPHA?"
According to the teaser, a whistleblower had accused Ben Owusu Mensah, director general of the GPHA, of benefiting from a US$ 16 million contract, which the authority awarded to a Chinese company recently.
Mr Ogbamey told the Media Foundation of West Africa (MFWA) that, upon receiving an invitation to the conference, he and Mr Asamoah went to the venue. However, the editor said Oscar Cudjoe, the public affairs manager of the GPHA, denied them access to the conference, saying it had been postponed.
During the press conference, the GPHA director general alleged that Mr Ogbamey had been harassing him. He also accused the journalist of blackmail and mischief, and further threatened legal action against Mr Ogbamey and the newspaper.
Newspaper manager Ogbamey alleged that the GPHA director general used two senior police officers to harass him not to publish the story.
In a letter to the newspaper on 5 December, the GPHA apologised to the newspaper for not allowing its journalists to attend the press conference.
Earlier, a crew from 'TV Africa', an Accra-based independent television station was arrested and detained for two hours by security personnel while they were trying to document the controversial acquisition of a nearby hotel building owned by President Kufuor's son, Chief John Addo Kufuor.
During their detention, the crew members said they were verbally harassed and one reporter had lost her identity card, which was clumsily removed to prevent her from calling the station.
The police later described the incident as unfortunate because they were tempted by misrepresentation of motives. "We are not perfect, sometimes we make regrettable mistakes and this is one of them," Ghana's Police General, Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong told a news conference.
Unlike many other countries, journalists in Ghana remain highly critical in their reporting and coverage of events. The press still is very much vital, despite an increasing willingness in society to get back on journalists.
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