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The Mass Media and Ghana's Success

Sina Odugbemi's picture

As you must know, Ghana has just had a remarkable transfer of power from one party to another in spite of how close the contest was. A new president has been sworn in and the country is looking to the future as a stable democracy. From the perspective of this blog, two things have been striking.

First, the global news media have been all over the story. All the leading journals of opinion have published stories and opinion pieces saluting Ghana's achievement. It is also interesting how often the stories have been framed as one hopeful sign of progress coming out of Africa. You can feel the collective sigh of relief . And the reason that is interesting is that there is still a debate out there regarding the extent to which liberal constitutional democracy is a universal form of rule, not dependent on specific cultures. Ghana is saying Africans too can build a democratic political culture as well as anybody.

Second, attention has been drawn to the role of a free, plural, independent and vibrant media system - in Ghana that is - played in Ghana's success. For instance, on January 8, 2009 the Financial Times of London said this in an editorial comment:

'What has made the difference is that successive leaders have allowed an independent media to flourish and an autonomous electoral commission to gain strength as an institution, and with it public trust. In the process, Ghanaians are becoming increasingly demanding of performance from their politicians. Their example is particularly welcome at a time when real democracy in Africa is otherwise under threat.'

And on January 15, The Ghanaian Chronicle published this view on the media's performance which I found via allAfrica.com. According to the report, Mr Charles Cofie, the Chairman of Unilever Ghana Limited, lauded the Ghanaian media for behaving well during the 2008 election. He was speaking at a press conference. He praised the media in Ghana for educating the citizens very well, thereby allowing them to broaden their knowledge and make informed choices in the election.

I draw attention to these testimonies as part of the continuing efforts of our blog to make the case for the role of a diverse and independent media system in furthering good governance.

Photo Credit: Flickr user bbcworldservice

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