UG School of Information and Communication Studies Holds Academic Seminar on Investigative Journalism In Ghana
Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, Dean, School of Information and Communication Studies
The School of Information and Communication Studies of the University of Ghana has held an academic seminar on investigative journalism in Ghana at the Bank of Ghana Auditorium on the theme “Anasisim’, Investigative Journalism and the Fight against Corruption: Interrogating Methods, Ethics, Legality, Impact, and Matters Arising from Number 12”.
The seminar saw experts from various disciplines including communications, law, political science, philosophy as well as media critically interrogating the legality and methods employed by the ace undercover investigative journalist, Anas, Aremeyaw Anas’ in his recent expose´, “Number 12” as well as matters arising since the premiering of the documentary. A five member panel consisting of Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, Dean, School of Information and Communication Studies, Ernest Kofi Abotsi, Dean, GIMPA School of Law, Dr. Kwame Asah-Asante from the Political Science Department, Mrs. Nancy Myles Baffour Gyamfi from the Department of Philosophy and Classics and Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
In his opening remarks, Anas indicated that his aim of engaging in undercover investigative journalism is to “name, shame and jail” corrupt persons in the society. He indicated that he had consistently employed the same method of investigation in all his previous documentaries and debunked allegations that he entrapped the victims to achieve his objectives. He indicated that he abides by rules and regulations governing undercover journalism and that has granted his documentaries credibility in international circles. In his concluding remarks Anas indicated that he was open to criticism which would result in bringing up the best in him.
Investigative journalist, Anas, Aremeyaw Anas
Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo in her submission explained the different types of journalism and the methods used. She agreed that many questions and concerns had been raised concerning the methods used by Anas and undercover investigative journalism as a whole, but was quick to add that undercover reporting or journalism has over the years been questioned and scrutinized in relation to ethical and legal issues. She cited examples of notable undercover works and concluded by saying, “Anas fits into a tradition that has already been established”.
Speaking from the legal perspective, Ernest Kofi Abotsi indicated that Media Rights guarantees the right to practice journalism and for that matter undercover journalism as practiced by Anas Aremeyaw Anas. He further submitted that even though Article 15 of the Constitution also guarantees the right to privacy, this right could be suspended in the event that an individual engages in criminality. He mentioned that mandated state institutions like the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) were to have led the fight against corruption, however, those institutions have failed in that direction, creating the gap which Anas is filling. He added that although there are competing interests, Anas’ actions could be deemed to be in the public interest.
Mr. Ernest Kofi Abotsi
Dr. Kwame Asah-Asante speaking from the political science perspective, indicated that the issue of corruption had featured prominently on the manifesto agenda of various political parties; however successive governments and institutions have failed to tackle the problem head-on. He stated that good governance thrives on the principles of transparency, equity and accountability. According to him, public offices like the Ghana Football Association (GFA) should be transparent and accountable, however the activities of the GFA had been shrouded in secrecy. Dr. Asah-Asante indicated that Anas’ activities seeks to hold public officers accountable for their actions and inactions. He further explained that failure of state institutions mandated to fight acts of criminality has resulted in loss of trust which could degenerate into a military takeover as has been the case in times past. He was therefore delighted by the work of Anas which sought to preserve the nation’s democracy by averting any military intervention.
Mrs. Nancy Myles Baffour Gyamfi who made her submissions from the ethical viewpoint, indicated that, as much as the actions of Anas sought to expose wrong doing, she raised concerns about what she referred to as “sponsored wrong exposure” as in the case of Number 12. She mentioned that journalists need to critically look through gathered information and decide what best tells the intended story, however, sponsors may influence the journalist to alter the story in their favor in the event that they have undisclosed interests or intentions in sponsoring a project. She recommended that strengthening “Anasism” should be sustained through strengthening state institutions mandated to fight corruption.