Paul Samasumo – Vatican City
As memes and various jokes on COVID-19 proliferate, Ghana’s National Media Commission has urged media houses to engage in humour only when it is appropriate.
Inappropriate humour breeds complacency
George Sarpong warned Ghana’s media that inappropriate humour could diminish the seriousness of COVID-19 and make the public complacent in their behaviour.
“Since the global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the President’s proactive measures to protect Ghana, the media have demonstrated commendable support … As we continue to mobilise towards collective success, there’s one area of practice the Commission would like to draw attention to. In the legitimate attempt to reduce public anxiety and provide hope in this moment of disquiet, some media have resorted to making jokes about the disease. While humour may have its place in reducing anxieties in moments of national stress, it also carries the risk of minimising the sense of urgency and possibly leading to complacency in public response,” the Executive Secretary of the Commission, George Sarpong observed.
A time and place
There has been a proliferation of jokes and memes about the disease all over the world. As the pandemic causes fear and despondency, creators of jokes, comics and artists say society needs humour and distraction in times of uncertainty. Humour also brings people together even as they are locked up in their houses. Ghana’s media body says there is a time and a place for humour. Too much of the humour could lead people not to take the virus seriously.
“The Commission would, therefore, like to remind the media that in a situation like this, balance still remains our greatest professional virtue. And the best way to achieve that is to rely on the official sources for accurate information. With God on our side, we know we shall triumph,” the media body advises.