Following the Election in Ghana: Media Gearing Up to Write About New Administration

Feb 112009

A little over a month after Ghana inaugurated it's new president, John Evans Atta Mills, newspapers are gearing up to write about the new administration's proposed budget and are being aggressive at writing about the vetting of the ministers (Minister of Finance, for example) being recommended by the Mills' administration.

Ghanaians, and indeed neighboring countries, are still praising the success of the country's election process.

Ghana's reporters were diligent in reporting on the candidates -- their personalities, rallies and alliances -- but did a less stellar job in reporting on the candidates' manifestos.

After the December 7 election, there was a runoff between the two largest political parties. The runoff was held right before Christmas and Ghanaians joked a lot about how they were not going to be able to have a Christmas because by this point, tensions were very, very high. Again, the country's journalists, particularly in the television arena, handled themselves well and wrote several noteworthy stories. And it must be noted that almost every outlet wrote or aired stories encouraging the electorate to stay calm. In most cases they did; there were a few incidents of physical attacks against journalists.

But after the runoff, it was determined that the election was still too close to call and to make matters worse, one of the constituencies was not able to vote. As for Tain, it's a sleepy farming town up north. There was some violence there. After the first election, arsonists set the Electoral Commission office in Tain on fire. The voting in Tain was marred by macho men allegedly stealing ballot boxes and other election materials. And they allegedly chased some of the monitors away into hiding. A third vote in that constituency was called. That's when some in the media went a little awry, particularly some of the radio people.

A number of radio stations, one in particular, encouraged voters to take up arms if the election did not come out in their party's favor. Stores closed down, the new mall called a state of emergency and everyone stayed inside.  Joy FM got in trouble for calling the election too early, in favor of Atta Mills. The television stations really shined, making great attempts to cover both sides fairly.