Penplusbytes after a successful launch of its project “Ghana Elections: Amplifying oil and election issues” held a two-day editors liaison for twenty (20) news editors in Takoradi.
The liaison which started on Friday, 9th September, 2016 was attended by editors from print, broadcast, wireless and online media including Daily Graphic, Citi FM, EIB Network, Joy News, TV3, Metro TV among others, who came together to discuss trends in the sector for effective reporting.
The liaison was premised on the fact that since the production of oil in commercial quantities in Ghana, the political discourse in the sector has been characterised by questions on how much revenue has been generated, what has been done with the revenues, and whether the investments made with the oil revenues yielded any value for the electorates. Issues based campaigning has also been excluded from the election discourse over the years.
Facilitators at the Editors’ liaison included Dr. Ishmeal Ackah, Head of research at Africa Center for Energy Policy and Dr. Steve Manteaw, co-chair of Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative.
Dr. Ackah started the discussions with a presentation on ‘the state of transparency in the oil and gas sector’. He encouraged editors to fine tune their reportage to demand transparency from managers of Ghana’s extractive sector. He stressed that news stories must set the agenda rather than follow the agenda. The editors agreed that the notion in media houses is that stories from the oil and gas sector doesn’t sell thus there is the need to package these stories in an appealing manner.
Highlighting some key mandates and field investigations undertaken by the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), he concluded his session challenging editors to probe the utilization of oil revenues for development.
Dr Steve Manteaw also led discussions on the topic ‘Does oil and gas matters in news coverage of Ghana’s election 2016. He reiterated the need to integrate the oil and gas services into the local economy so that it benefits all Ghanaians; adding that the media must find out from the political parties how they would manage the volatility of the oil prices on the international market as well as other essential commodities in this electioneering period.
Moses Aklorbortu, an editor at the Daily Graphic lauded Penplusbytes for the initiative. He further called on his colleagues in the media fraternity to acquire enough knowledge on the sector to produce quality content that the public is looking for, adding that the oil and gas sector is quite technical and should be well researched on before reports are published.
The Editors liaison was held to address the concerns affecting citizens and media’s ability to question and hold politicians accountable on the extractive sector using their platforms.