CoronaVirus Crisis: Be circumspect in your reportage- GJA to Journalists

The Ghanaian Media has been urged to be circumspect in their reportage on the Coronavirus (COVID-19), in order not to create unnecessary panic.

This call comes in the wake of six confirmed cases of the virus in the country by the Director of Public Health, Ghana Health Service at a press briefing on Sunday, 15th of March, 2020.

In a release issued by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) signed by the Vice President, Mrs. Linda Asante believes that, ” With six cases of the virus recorded in Ghana, the media has a duty to provide citizens with accurate information and avoid sensationalism that could lead to general panic and fear”.

Furthermore, the release reminded the media of its critical role in times like this for the public heavily depends on news reports for information on what precautionary measures to take, adding, “we cannot fail them.”

Therefore advised journalists to use trustworthy sources for their reportage and avoid speculations as well called on public authorities and medical institutions to provide timely and accurate information to journalists when they call on them.

The use of fear-induced vocabulary that could create a state of alarm should be avoided, and urged all journalists to uphold the privacy of affected people to avoid stigmatization of close relatives.

“As the World Health Organisation describes COVID-19 as a pandemic, the GJA urges journalists to adhere strictly to the Code of Ethics of the Association, which provides the best antidote for misinformation, fake news and conspiracy theories that have thronged social media outlets,” said the release.

The GJA through the release reiterates that journalists’ responsibility towards the public must take precedence over any other consideration.

It urged the media to increase public awareness of the situation through reporting that educates, warns and informs properly on the virus, adding that by so doing, they would be part of the solution.

It further urged journalists to take precautionary measures of safety, while working to provide the public information.

“To the general public, let us continue to follow the basic wellness practices, which include washing of hands with soap under running water for, at least, 20 seconds, avoiding touching of eyes, nose and mouth, avoiding close contact with sick people, and covering of nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing,” the release said.

It said in order to ensure success in these precautionary measures, the appropriate authorities must ensure that there is availability of water for hand-washing and litter bins placed at vantage points for easy disposal of tissues used to cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing since the lack of these things may seriously impair the fight against COVID-19.

“The GJA commends government for the stringent health screening measures put in place at the various ports of entry, and for committing one hundred million dollars to contain the pandemic,” the release said.

Source: News Desk

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