INAUGURAL ADDRESS DELIVERED BY ANDREW EDWIN ARTHUR, PRESIDENT OF PRINPAG AT THE SWEARING-IN CEREMONY OF THE NEWLY ELECTED EXECUTIVES
Minister for Information,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Chairman of the National Media Commission,
Our Distinguished Invited Guests,
Colleague Journalists and Members of PRINPAG,
Ladies and Gentlemen, All Protocols Duly Observed.
I thank the Almighty God for yet another opportunity to stand before such an august audience to deliver this inaugural address in my capacity as the elected President of this great and dynamic Association, the Private Newspaper and Online Publishers Association of Ghana, known as PRINPAG for short.
Mr. Chairman, let me begin my address by expressing gratitude to the Almighty God for his loving kindness over all of us and the Association over the years, and also to the entire membership of PRINPAG, for placing their confidence and trust in me once again, to serve them as their President for yet another three-year term.
This is a responsibility that I do not take lightly, and I will endeavour to represent the Association’s best interest at all times with the support of the members of the Executive Committee and indeed the entire membership of the Association.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone, my family, friends, colleagues and former Executives of PRINPAG, for their encouragement, criticisms and the guidance over the last three year period, that has seen us rebranding and transforming PRINPAG into yet another vibrant and strong media Association that is poised to regain its previous position as a strong force to reckon with in Ghana’s political governance.
Mr. Chairman, we will all recall that, I took over the leadership of the Association in the year 2019 as the President, and today that administration is expected to come to an end with a new set of members taking over the wheels of administration for the next three years with me still as the master-servant – the President.
Mr. Chairman, among others, the immediate past administration achieved a lot for the Association during its three-year period in office having served the Association dutifully and to the best of our ability, in a selfless manner, and as a result achieved some appreciable results collectively.
Mr. Chairman, it was trite knowledge that, the Association did not have an office space at the time we took over in the year 2019, however, we solicited for funding support and managed to provide the current office premises, which accommodates the Secretariat of the Association.
But beyond the renting of an office accommodation for the Association, Mr. Chairman, we are looking at the bigger picture of the Association owning its own office complex, and to ensure that this materializes, we are currently in talks with the Lands Commission, pleading with its Officials to consider donating a bare land to PRINPAG for that purpose.
Let me also add that, leadership engaged in talks with the Embassy of Saudi Arabia that made a commitment to support us in that regard and the current leadership will revive talks with the Saudi Arabia in that regard.
Again upon assumption of office of the immediate past leadership, we realized that, the Association did not have a Constitution and embarrassed by that development, we vowed to rally all executives and members of the Association to ensure that, we give the Association a befitting Constitution and I am happy to announce that, that resolve has materialized as the Association now has a Constitution that serves as its working document.
Mr. Chairman, the past administration with me as the President also championed the building of a credible data base, not only for Newspaper Publishers and Online News Portal Owners and their Editors, but also for all those who work with these media Establishments. This, we viewed as an important exercise for planning purposes and has gone a long way to enable the Executive Committee and the PRINPAG Secretariat have a holistic, clear and complete picture of all our members and their staff countrywide.
With the development of this data base, we are able to ensure that, no media practitioner working with any PRINPAG member is left out of our training programmes and I am again happy to state that, this data base helped immensely in getting PRINPAG members and our staff actively involved in the recent Covid-19 training programmes across the country and same data base was also used to select our members to participate in the Media Capacity Enhancement Training Programme held in Kumasi in January 2022.
Capacity Building Workshops
Mr. Chairman, as part of improving the capacity and knowledge base of our members, the past executives of which I was the President, secured some training programmes that were sponsored by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Bank of Ghana and Eximbank, which went a long way to broaden the horizon of our members in the operational areas of those sponsoring institutions.
Mr. Chairman, I am very passionate about training and capacity building of our members and so long as I remain the President, it will be one of my priorities, in that, it helps to educate us on the changing trends in the practice of our chosen profession and also gives our news outlets credibility and new leases of life once we incorporate our newly acquired knowledge into our production.
But going forward Mr. Chairman, among others, our attention will be focused primarily on specialization, which seems to be the new trend in modern day journalism practice.
Business Promotion of Newspapers and Online News Portals
Mr. Chairman, as part of improving the business aspects of our various establishments, the past executives initiated discussions with the CEO of Centre Of Awareness-Global Peace Mission (COA-GPM), who has agreed to sign an MOU with the Association, which partnership arrangement is to benefit all members of PRINPAG without discrimination.
The MoU to kick start this all important partnership will soon be signed by the two bodies, PRINPAG and COA-GPM.
Distribution of Adverts
Mr. Chairman, plans are far advanced to intensify our engagement with NPA, NLA, COCOBOD and the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources to consider involving the executives of PRINPAG in the placement of adverts in the various newspapers and Online News Portals and the response has been very encouraging. I am expecting the new leadership to follow up on this initiative to seal the discussions to enable all members of the Association benefit from advert placements, which we believe, will give those institutions better value for their money instead of the current situation where only a few media outlets benefit from same.
Mr. Chairman, I was overwhelmed by the massive endorsement I received from members at our elections to continue to do more for the complete turn around and development of our beloved Association and I want to assure them that, we will not let them down.
Mr. Chairman, during our first term in office, our focus was on putting in place the right structures to enable the Association function effectively, but in this second term, we will focus on Business Development of our members as well as securing scholarships and Fellowship programmes for them to help build their professional capacity and to also enhance their knowledge-base.
Mr. Chairman, these are some of the things we intend doing for our members in the next three years of our administration but much depends on us as members of PRINPAG and indeed of the inky fraternity if we will succeed in all the fine ideas we intend to implement.
Mr. Chairman, one of the things that inhibit efforts by the leadership of media Associations is what I term as political journalism, journalism of emotions and vindictiveness that seem to be deep-seated in the practice of our chosen profession. Our overly partisan and emotional stance sometimes cloud our judgment to the extent that, we do not see anything good about the opponent of the perceived political party we support.
This Mr. Chairman, has proven to be one issue that keeps preventing leadership of securing funding to advance the course of our members and the earlier we decided to desist from these, the better it will be for us as members of a media professional Association.
We may decide to stick to our partisan ideologies but we must distinguish them from the practice of our chosen profession and not allow them to affect the basic tenets and ethics of our profession.
Again Mr. Chairman, one of the problems that leads to the Ghanaian media dwindling in their influence and thus suffering patronage crisis is our reckless and unprofessional conduct where we decide to ignore our ethics and here we urge all our members to always enadevour to exhibit high professional duty and strict adherence to high journalistic standards of balance, fairness and accuracy, among others.
Another critical issue, which is dealing a blow to the growth of the media in Ghana is the manner in which the media is being handled by the Government and its media handlers. We do appreciate their efforts but the plane truth is that, they are still handling the media using anachronistic policies and strategies, which are not workable in these contemporary times and we urge them to have a paradigm shift and to engage more with the media Associations to save the Ghanaian media from falling into an abyss.
In recent times, Mr. Chairman, our media front has been characterized by attacks of all forms, antagonisms and chaos that portend gloom for Ghana’s freedom of speech and the development of the media but it is important to indicate that, anybody who feels strongly about the work of any media practitioner or institution should express his or her outrage by resorting to the laws laid down to deal with media excesses.
It is said that, a bad press is better than none at all and as a human institution, the media are prone to errors and excesses but when that happens, we should express our disapproval using the basic tenets of the rule of law to deal with the situation.
But Mr. Chairman, while urging the general public to play by the rules in times of media excesses, it is also important for media practitioners themselves to be disciplined in their approach to the practice of journalism in this country and I am happy to announce that, the current executives of PRINPAG have vowed to deal with needless excesses of its members by referring complaints to its newly formed Complaints and Disciplinary Committee and all members found culpable or guilty of such complaints will be dealt with ruthlessly by the leadership of the Association irrespective of individual members and media organizations involved.
To conclude Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the newly elected executives, I pledge to our members and the entire nation, our resolve and readiness to serve the Association in our various positions accepting the challenges that come with it and we promise never to let you down.
Long Live PRINPAG, Long Live Press Freedom, Long Live Ghana and thank you all for your attention.