As political corruption and corporate wrong doings continue to surge, journalists from across the West African sub-region have been tasked to derive more passion in investigative reporting by bridging the gap between injustice and inequality aimed at holding government accountable to the people.
It is estimated that Ghana loses more than $3 billion annually to corruption. This amount represents about 300 per cent of total aid inflows the country receives from donor support and charity organizations.
As a backdrop, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), with collaboration with DW Akademie, a subsidiary of DW Media have organized a conference on investigative journalism geared towards training and building capacity for selected journalists in the quest to expose corruption in the region.
The conference brought together seasoned investigative journalists from across the West African sub-region to deliberate and discuss the current state of investigative journalism and share useful ideas on media rights and freedoms.
Speaking to Goldstreet Business, Country Director for DW Akademie, Beate Weids explained the sub-region needs fearless defenders to investigate continuous political and corporate corruption which have adverse effect on the lives of the people.
According to her, the Right to Information (RTI) Bill, which parliament is seeking to pass must not be seen as a guarantee to accessing information. She entreated participants to demonstrate resilience in the field of investigative reporting by doing more work in holding state institutions and governments accountable to their actions.
“Public authorities are not used to being transparent or accountable. But investigative journalism involves digging deeper to uncover issues like political corruption and corporate wrong doings in order to bring about changes in the society”, the Country Director said.
Ghana is one of nine African countries currently benefitting from DW Akademie media training on capacity building in media development. The Country Director further noted her outfit is already training a number of Ghanaian youths at four district levels to promote access to information. This, she insisted will enable local participants to be more active in requesting information from district officials.
Democratization in the sub-region
In his opening remarks, the Executive Director for the MFWA, Sulemana Braimah, highlighted the impact media freedoms have had on the West African sub-region.
He stressed that democratization in the region has contributed to the liberalization of the media environment. He, however, opined that despite this development, the quality of governance in the region has not reflected positively in the lives of the people.
“The failure of various governments in the region to improve on the lives of its citizens shows a deficit of the kind of governance we have”, he said.
Former Chairman for the National Media Commission, Kabral Blay-Amihere mentioned in his key note address that it was important media practitioners rise up to the challenge in the field of investigative reporting.
According to him, the role and media space that used to be enjoyed by traditional media is now being shared by other people who are not necessarily trained. Thus, he expressed the need for trained journalists to be up for the task by not only exposing corruption, but also fake news.
By Dundas Whigham