Government has welcomed the 2022 Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders which saw Ghana drop significantly from 30th position in 2021 to 60th in the global ranking.
A statement issued and signed by Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah and shared with the Ghana News Agency in Accra in reaction to the report assured of the Government’s commitment to promoting press freedom and the safety of journalists in Ghana.
The Minister said the report would serve as a baseline for government to work collaboratively with the National Media Commission to reverse the trend and help deepen press freedom in the country.
It acknowledged the change in methodology used in assessing press freedom in various countries worldwide which contributed to Ghana’s drop.
The government pledged to collaborate with other stakeholders including the Civil Society Organisations towards deepening education for State and non-State actors on the safety of journalists.
That would help address the concerns raised in the report including the poor economic conditions of most journalists in the country, and continued engagements with media associations and media owners to improve the working and economic conditions of media practitioners.
The government would also collaborate with stakeholders to clamp down on disinformation and the spread of fake news which is one of the reasons that negatively affect Ghana’s drop in press freedom.
The government, however, said despite the caution from the report care should be taken when comparing the 2022 rankings and scores from 2021 in view of the new methodology used in this year’s analysis.
Government noted that it was important to emphasize the change in methodology, which accounted for Ghana’s drop and other countries including the Netherlands dropped from 5th in 2021 to 28th in this year’s global ranking.
“Due to this development, four of the countries (Netherlands, Jamaica, Switzerland, and New Zealand) that ranked top 10 in 2021 significantly dropped in ranking, slumping out of the top 10 in the year under review.
It is worthy to note that Ghana’s dip in the ranking was influenced by two new parameters including the Economic Context and Safety of Journalists, where the country scored 47.22% and 62.25% respectively.
It said Ghana comparatively performed better in guaranteeing the safety of journalists (62.25%) juxtaposed to economic factors that influence media work (47.22%) underpinned by poor salaries for journalists and the lack of financial sustainability of some media houses, making a few of the economically less viable.
On the safety of journalists, it is imperative to note that an activity that may feed into the assessment of press freedom includes actions by non-State actors, the government observed.
“It is also striking that the new report took into consideration the effect of opinion media, propaganda, disinformation, and fake news and their adverse impact on press freedom ranking for affected countries.
“This is as a result of growing political and social tensions leading to information distortions and the publication of false news, particularly across social media platforms,” it said.
The 2022 report was developed with a new methodology by RSE, which considers: Legal Framework and Justice System, Technological Censorship and Surveillance, Disinformation and Propaganda, Arbitrary Detentions and Proceedings, Independence and Pluralism, Models and Good Practices, Media Sustainability, and Violence Against Journalists.
According to the five parameters used in the assessment, Ghana scored appreciably high in the following areas: Legal Framework (81.42%) and Socio-cultural Context (79.64%).
Ghana also recorded above average and moderately high scores for Political Context (66.61%) and Safety of Journalists (62.25%).
It said the only parameter in which Ghana performed below average was Economic Context (47.22%), which referred to the economic conditions of journalists and financial sustainability of media houses.
Ghana’s scores under these parameters culminated in an average score of 67.43% and 60th position on the rankings.
The report considered the following factors including Legal Framework and Justice System,
Technology, Censorship and Surveillance, Disinformation and Propaganda.
Others are: Arbitrary Detentions, Proceedings, Independence, and Pluralism, Models and Good Practices, Media Sustainability and Violence Against Journalists.
The report also looked at the impact of unregulated online media spaces that served as conduits for spreading fake news and disinformation.