Communiqué of a 2-Day North-East Media Workshop on Election Reporting

Communiqué of a 2-Day North-East Media Workshop on Election Reporting

INTRODUCTION The workshop was organized by the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos in collaboration with the Democratic Governance for Development (DGD lll) Project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other partners. The project is being implemented by the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria with the funding support of the United Nations Development Programme’s

Speakers at the workshop.

Speakers at the workshop.

INTRODUCTION

The workshop was organized by the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos in collaboration with the Democratic Governance for Development (DGD lll) Project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other partners.

The project is being implemented by the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria with the funding support of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Democratic Governance for Development (DGD 111) programme and its partners including the European Union (EU), UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

The objective of the workshop was to ensure the professional, conflict-sensitive, public interest and gender-supportive reporting of 2015 elections.

The twenty-six participants consisted of female and male journalists drawn from print and broadcast media houses in the North Eastern States of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe.

In line with its objectives, the workshop featured presentations, practical discussions and interactive sessions on the germane issues of conflict sensitive, public interest and gender supportive reporting of the 2015 elections.

The papers that were discussed at the workshop include ‘Reporting Conflict in the North East: The responsibilities of journalists and media gate keepers’ by Mallam Mohammed Garba, President, Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ); ‘Mainstreaming Gender Perspective into Election Reporting’ by Ms. Ayisha Osori, CEO, Nigerian Women Trust Fund; ‘2015 Elections – The Challenge of Reporting Public Interest Issues in Conflict prone environment’ by Mr. Bayo Atoyebi, Former Executive Secretary, Nigeria Press Council and Safety in Conflict Reporting by Mr. Lanre Arogundade; Director, International Press Centre (IPC) Lagos.

The workshop also featured a stories clinic session during which participants presented the election stories they plan to work on based the knowledge gained in the course of the workshop.

OBSERVATIONS

Participants observed that:

  • The crisis in the North East portends grave danger for the country as well as the media, which cannot function effectively in a violent prone environment;
  • Journalists and other media professionals in the North East have commendably braved the odds to gather and disseminate information on the festering crisis in the region;
  • Journalists and other media professionals in the North East need regular training on conflict sensitive reporting techniques, safety precautions and the management of trauma as they are exposed to a form of violent conflict that is unprecedented in the country;
  • The media have been used both for dousing tension as well as increasing tension in the conflict-stricken zone;
  • The media have not done enough to ensure issue-based reporting on the insurgency, but rather seem to be focusing too much attention on personalities and other divisive tendencies;
  • The media have been found wanting in its responsibility of promoting the participation of women in politics, thereby not doing enough for the attainment of 35% Affirmative Action Policy; and
  • Journalists and other media professionals are yet to fully utilize social media platforms to enhance their jobs.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The workshop recommended as follows:

For Journalists and other media professionals

  • Journalists and other media professionals should always adhere to the code of ethics of the profession;
  • Journalists and other media professionals should apply the principles of social responsibility including balance, accuracy and fairness in the coverage and reportage of the North East insurgency;
  • Journalists and other media professionals should be conflict sensitive in the reporting of the North East crisis to avoid exacerbating the conflict;
  • Journalists and other media professionals should give adequate and positive coverage to female politicians while they should highlight the challenges facing women politicians towards achieving 35% Affirmative Action Policy in the forthcoming elections;
  • Journalists and other media professionals should support advocacy for economic empowerment of women so as to boost their capacities to aspire for political positions in the country;
  • Female politicians should make themselves accessible and engage the media in selling their policies and programmes to the electorate to boost their chances of victory at the 2015 polls;
  • Journalists and other media professionals should keep themselves abreast of the opportunities provided by the social media, especially by visiting timelines of prominent politicians, political parties, INEC and other relevant sites, for issue focused reporting of the 2015 Elections;
  • Journalists and other media professionals should highlight the underlining issues of unemployment, low education, influx of foreigners, etc in the North East crisis;
  • Journalists and other media professionals should highlight the plight of internally displaced persons most of whom are facing health challenges and food shortages in reporting the North East insurgency;
  • Journalists and other media professionals should take proactive and precautionary measures to ensure their personal safety and security in the course of discharging their responsibilities;
  • Journalists and other media professionals should engage in self-development by updating their knowledge about legislative and institutional frameworks for reporting elections.

For Media Institutions & Professional Bodies

  • The NUJ, NGE, RATTAWU, NPAN etc should make copies of the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage available to all journalists and other media professionals to keep them abreast of their professional obligations during the 2015 Elections;
  • The media should place the public and national interest in peaceful coexistence above narrow considerations in reporting the North East insurgency;
  • The media should facilitate conflict resolution and peace building through the presentation of accurate information on the activities of the insurgents and similar organizations;
  • Media managers should invest in the building of staff capacity towards effective and professional reporting of the 2015 elections;
  • The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other media stakeholders should continue to uphold ethical journalism and act in the defense of press freedom and journalists’ rights; they should in particular explore legitimate means to ensure the prompt payment of wages and expand the scope of the insurance policy for members especially in the North East.

The participants expressed gratitude to the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Democratic Governance for Development (DGD II) Project which is funded with contributions from the European Union (EU), UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the UNDP for supporting the workshop.

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Cross section of participants at the workshop

Cross section of participants at the workshop

Additional Papers Presented:

Guide For Reporting In Conflict/Crises Situations [wpdm_file id=25]

The Challenges Of Reporting Conflict In The North East: The Responsibility Of Journalists And Media Gatekeepers [wpdm_file id=26]

The Challenge Of Reporting Public Interest Issues In A Conflict Prone Environment [wpdm_file id=27]

Mainstreaming of Gender Perspective in Election Reporting [wpdm_file id=28]

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