Fumnanya Ojugbana, Lagos
Stakeholders in the media industry have tasked journalists on the need to conduct themselves responsibly and exhibit professionalism in the discharge of their electoral duties.
At a media stakeholders’ roundtable on Monitoring of Print and Online Newspapers’ Reporting of the 2019 Electoral Process (September to December 2018 Score-Card), held yesterday in Lagos, Director, International Press Centre (IPC), Lanre Arogundade, who spoke on how the media can be more professional in the coverage of the electoral process, urged reporters to prove that they are capable of correcting misinformation, disinformation and fake news.
Arogundade, who noted that there are a group of people, who due to keen interest, are bent on misleading others, appealed to the mainstream media to use their contact with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and those in authority to regularly get updated and accurate information, especially on rumours, and quickly bring it to the knowledge of the people.
For journalists to get it right, he cautioned them to be careful in the words they use in their reports. He urged them to be neutral in their reports, as according to him, “the political party of journalists is journalism. Our dedication must be to our profession. Politicians will always use all kinds of languages, including highly inflammable ones.”
He tasked them to report events during elections as accurately as possible, as “We can only get it right when we do not allow politicians to mislead us, especially spokespersons of the candidates and their parties.”
“Our duty is to cross-check every information we get. The discipline of facts-checking and verification must be our watchword to get it right during this election,” Arogundade added.
, Executive Director, Centre for Free Speech, Lagos, Richard Akinnola said the event was to alert journalists on the need to change their perspective in terms of the visibility they give to bigger parties, to the detriment of the smaller ones.
Berating some journalists for concentrating most of their reports on the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Akinnola urged them to give smaller parties visibility and adequate coverage during elections.
“The media should consciously highlight the activities of the smaller parties, because from there, they can gain confidence to becoming “bigger parties,” he said.
Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State chapter, Qasim Akinreti, noted that for journalists to be responsible and responsive, they need to know the dos and don’ts of the election coverage.
Urging reporters to ensure balanced reportage, Akinreti noted that they can’t afford to be partisan, but “they must ensure balanced and adequate coverage of all the groups and political parties available to them.”
While appreciating support of the international community, especially the European Union, for the support to train media groups for the election, Akinreti assured that Nigerian journalists will play by the rule and “by the end of it all, we will have free and fair elections.”