THE Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, has asked panellists on various electronic media programmes to comport themselves when contributing their views on issues.
He has also charged moderators of programmes to “manage” panellists to deal with the topic being discussed, instead of subjects which are likely to disturb the peace.
At a meeting with publishers and senior media practitioners to strategise on how the country could have successful elections, the minister, who shared his views on possible occurrences on election day, was sure that no disturbances would occur.
“I do not think Ghanaians will be fighting on election day. Ghanaians fighting on a Sunday! Muslims will also be celebrating their festival, the Eid-ul-Adha. No one will fight,” he said.
His concern, however, was on administrative or procedural lapses in the electoral process that could make some people misbehave.
However, that could be contained if security personnel were up to their task and worked professionally, with the media encouraging them with constructive and critical articles and programmes, Mr Asamoah-Boateng said.
He also shared a few political techniques with journalists on how he managed to ensure peaceful campaigning in his constituency.
He said in politics, numbers mattered, so he always endeavoured to win to his side people with opposing views in his constituency, while at the same time not losing sight of his core support base.
Making reference to the Biblical parable of the shepherd who left 99 sheep to look for the one lost sheep, Mr Asamoah-Boateng said, “In politics, you do not leave the 99 and go and look for the one, otherwise you come back and find three more sheep missing.”
The Deputy Minister of Information, Mr Frank Agyekum, gave instances when headlines and electronic media programmes tended to mar the peaceful atmosphere in the country.
He said there was no problem with the media taking sides with one political party or another; what mattered was how they did it and whether they took sides blindly or were so extreme in their support of a party that it clouded their judgement in their profession.
The meeting brought together top officials of media organisations, editors, producers, talk-show hosts and hostesses.
Topmost on the agenda was how producers and talk-show hosts and hostesses could moderate better and cut out insults, negative statements, misinformation and comments that were likely to cause election disturbances.
Mr Asamoah-Boateng said the meeting was part of his wider engagement of key role players in the elections, such as the security agencies, the Electoral Commission and the public.
He said the aim of the meetings was for all stakeholders to improve upon their performance in their various fields of endeavour in the run-up to the elections.
DAILY GRAPHIC, NOVEMBER 25, 2008