He also encouraged them to fight against the cheap but unattractive path of unprofessional conduct.
“That is the only way self-respecting journalists and responsible media organisations can and will earn back the people’s trust and confidence,” Prof Karikari stated in his remarks in Accra at the opening of a two-day Regional Conference on Media and Democracy in West Africa.
The conference, which is being organized by MFWA in collaboration with the West Africa Civil Society Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS) and the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) is on the theme: “The Media, Press Freedom and the Democratic Recession in West Africa.”
It is being attended by over 100 participants from across the West Africa sub-region.
It seeks to deliberate on the debilitating impact the recent democratic rollback in the West Africa region is having on the media, press freedom and civic participation.
Prof Karikari noted that the difficult and often frightening as it was independent media organisations should continue to report issues of human rights abuses and support social justice causes.
He said to sustain their collective survival and freedom, the media must strive to forge partnerships and alliances, in-country and across borders, to share publications and programmes designed to expose incidents of ‘democracy capture’ and to promote democracy causes.
He urged individual journalists with democratic persuasions to play active roles in their professional associations, so as to prevent the hijack of their organisations by mercenary agents of the enablers of democracy capture.
“There appears to be a decline in the commitment to fight to protect and defend press freedom across the Continent,” he said.
“This spirit must be rekindled by media professional associations and human rights advocacy organisations.”
Prof Karikari said independent media must find ways, in countries where there was still room to operate openly without violent reprisals, to initiate campaigns to promote and defend the values and principles of democracy through rigorous publications and critical broadcasting programmes.
He urged independent media to consider it a mission to provoke the public interest in and active engagement in democracy issues and questions of rights and good governance.
“Independent media organisations should engage democracy and human rights advocacy civil society groups and NGOs in partnership and coalitions in promoting democracy issues and campaigns.”
He said there seemed to be a decline in international support for advocacy work in democracy causes and Media freedom; adding that there was a need for strengthening support to enhance civil society’s capacity to wage campaigns to defend democracy causes.
Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh, Executive Director, Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) said the media as an important institution needed to be protected to consolidate democracy.
Dr Eyesan Okorodudu, Head Democracy and Good Governance, ECOWAS Commission, said they were considering establishing a new unit under his department to manage the affairs of digital media as a tool for promoting peace and security in the sub-region.
Mr Baba Gana Wakil, ECOWAS Resident Representative in Ghana, said the ECOWAS Commission always recognized the critical role of the media and other civil society organisations in the sociopolitical space of the subregion in the sustenance of its fragile democracy.