Ghana’s dismal performance in the World Press Freedom Index has been attributed to a change in methodology by Reporters Without Borders, according to the government.
“As a result of this change, four (4) of the top ten (10) nations in 2021 (Netherlands, Jamaica, Switzerland, and New Zealand) have slid out of the top ten (10) in the year under review,” Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said in a statement.
“It is worth noting that Ghana’s drop in ranking was mostly driven by two of the new parameters, namely the Economic Context and Journalist Safety, where the country scored 47.22 percent and 62.25 percent respectively,” the statement continued.
The research also reveals a new alarming development in the media environment, according to the government.
“It’s also noteworthy that the new research took into account the effects of opinion media, propaganda, disinformation, and false news on press freedom rankings in affected nations.” This is due to rising political and social tensions, which have resulted in information distortions and the dissemination of false information, notably on social media platforms.”
Ghana has slipped 30 places from 2021 to 60th place with a score of 67.43 in the World Press Freedom Index 2022.
Ghana has likewise suffered a major decline in the continental ranking for journalist safety.
Namibia, South Africa, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Niger are among the African countries ahead of Ghana.
“Despite the fact that the country is seen as a regional leader in terms of democratic stability, journalists have faced increasing difficulties in recent years.” As the administration proves itself intolerant of criticism, they increasingly turn to self-censorship to protect their employment and security,” the World Press Freedom Index reported on May 3,2022.
“The 2019 information access law empowers media to request information of national importance,” it continued. However, if the information requested is in a language other than English, a clause in the statute allows a fee to be levied – a provision that has been exploited to deny journalists access to the material they want.”
“In addition, one-third of media outlets are controlled by politicians or people linked to the leading political parties,” the research continued. They produce a lot of partisan content. Most media businesses in Ghana are experiencing financial difficulties, which is reflected in low salaries and bad working conditions for journalists. New newspapers are frequently created only to fold after a few months due to a lack of funding.
“Government advertising contracts and payment for publishing news items benefit state-owned media, on the other hand. A non-transparent and inequitable mechanism is used to award government advertisements.”