In the ever-evolving landscape of information dissemination, the Information Services Department (ISD) of Ghana has played a crucial role in connecting the government with its people. Over the years, the ISD has transformed and adapted to meet the changing needs of society, leaving an indelible mark on the progress of the nation.
Let us delve into the journey of the ISD, from its humble beginnings to its current state, and explore how it has bridged the information gap for the advancement of Ghana.
From War News to Public Relations:
The roots of the ISD traces back to the late 1930s when it emerged as a branch of the Colonial Government Secretariat. Its primary objective was to convey news about World War II to the people of Gold Coast, utilizing a weekly journal called the “Empire at War.”
After the war, the organization was renamed the Public Relations Department, assuming oversight responsibility for vital institutions such as the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, the Ghana News Agency and the Ghana Film Industry Corporation.
That said, the Department of Information was tasked heavily on recognizing the need to bridge the communication gap between the government and the governed and so the then Gold Coast Government reorganized the Public Relations Department in line with the Coussey Committee’s recommendations in 1949.
This transformation led to the establishment of the Department of Information, a more effective government information disseminating unit. It served as a vital conduit for keeping citizens informed about government policies and programs.
Moreover, ISD adapted to a Changing Media Landscape that introduced the advent of news channels marked a significant shift in Ghana’s media landscape, providing people with a broader range of news sources and information. As a result, the ISD had to adapt to meet the evolving needs of the public. The iconic information vans, which once traveled across towns and villages, disseminating news and educational programs, gradually made way for news channels of information dissemination.
THE ISD TRANSFORMATIONAL AGENDA
Currently, the ISD has instituted a Transformational and Modernization agenda. While the vision is to become “a smart modern Department and the preferred choice for focused and credible source of government information”, the Department mission exists to promote public participation and engagement through awareness creation of government policies, programs and activities for national development.
In order to be able to carry out this new focus, and in the wake of the increasing influence of digital technologies, the department has invested in developing an advanced digital infrastructure through it Research Division. This infrastructure not only facilitates better data management but also ensures easier access to information for citizens.
Again, the ISD in expanding access to information to enhance transparency and citizen engagement, established the Access to Information (ATI) Division in July 2020. This division trains and deploys RTI Officers to various government institutions, ensuring timely access to information requests. Equipped with modern equipment and a dedicated support system, the ATI Division has become a vital resource in providing up-to-date information to the public.
Furthermore, in coordinating government information, the Public Relations Coordinating Division (PRCD) also underwent retooling and reorientation to fulfill its role as the central hub for coordinating government information. By staffing Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) with well-trained Public Relations Officers, the PRCD ensures efficient and effective communication between the
government and the public.
Additionally, the introduction of an online platform called the “Bonsu” has also been introduced as part of the transformational agenda to enable PROs to send timely updates and information to the Department.
The ISD News Room cannot be left out in this era of the changing world of work. As part of the new focus, the news room has also been retooled with several computers and other equipment to help journalist pick up reports from the easily accessible Bonsu Platform which they convert into news stories for publication on the ISD Official website (www.ghanatoday.gov.gh).
Meanwhile, while adapting to the changing media landscape, the ISD has not forgotten its roots. Recognizing the enduring power of visual communication, the department is in the process of procuring Cinema LED Trucks, a modern and creative means of reaching citizens across various municipalities. These mobile vans will serve as an innovative platform for delivering engaging content and reaching a wider audience.
In conclusion, the journey of the Information Services Department (ISD) is one of continuous evolution, transforming from a wartime news provider to a vital entity bridging the information gap between the government and the people of Ghana.
Over the years, the ISD has adapted to new technologies, embraced innovation, and expanded access to information, all in the pursuit of a more informed audiences.
The author is the Head of PAU at MELR and a staff of ISD.
Charlotte Hanson, ISD