Ahead of the governorship and state house of assembly elections, a group of media stakeholders has convened for a roundtable discussion on the outcome of the media monitor reports while covering the 2023 electioneering process. The roundtable discussion was organised by the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, in Port Hacourt
Ahead of the governorship and state house of assembly elections, a group of media stakeholders has convened for a roundtable discussion on the outcome of the media monitor reports while covering the 2023 electioneering process.
The roundtable discussion was organised by the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, in Port Hacourt in conjunction with the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria -phase 2 (EUSGNII) to examine the issues arising from the trends of reports of 15 media print and online media platforms about the elections in January. The roundtable discussion also delved into how media platforms can adhere to the stipulations Nigerian Media Code for Elections Coverage and Safety Advisory on the Elections.
A communique signed by IPC Press Freedom/Project Officer, Ms. Melody Akinjiyan stated that the event was attended by the leadership of media professional bodies/associations; reporters from the print, broadcast and online mediums and representatives of the academia and civil society.
She noted that some of the attendants who delivered goodwill speeches included Mrs. Susan Serekara-Nwikhana, Chairperson of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State chapter and Comrade Job Stanley, Chairman of Rivers State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), who also doubled as a discussant of the expert review by Dr. Dike Harcourt Whyte of Rivers State University. The other discussant was Mrs Emem Okon, the Executive Director of Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre.
Also, the Executive Director of the International Press Centre Mr Lanre Arogundade made a presentation on conflict sensitivity and Safety Consciousness in the context of the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage.
According to the communique, the participants observed that “the monitored media were generally not inclusive in their coverage of the 2023 elections during the period under review; Women and persons with disability (PWD) were among the groups that received little coverage from the monitored media during the period;
Female candidates and female politicians were particularly poorly reported and not given the deserved prominence;
“The dearth of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech in the monitored media during the period was commendable but there were some reports that were conflict insensitive and therefore capable of inciting violence most of the analysed reports however met the required standards of conflict-sensitivity in election reporting
“While there was robust coverage of the eighteen political parties participating in the presidential elections, only a few notably the All Progressives Congress, the Peoples Democratic party and the Labour Party dominated the front pages;
The monitoring exercise is useful in providing insight into the state of compliance with ethical and professional standards of election coverage and therefore should be sustained.
The participants, however, appealed to the government, law enforcement and security agents, political parties, the Independent National Electoral Commission and media proprietors to provide the enabling environment for journalists to professionally report the electoral processes and elections.
More so, the participant urged the media practitioners to operate in line with the requirements of the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage and other regulatory frameworks like the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and the Electoral Act 2022 as well as the IPC Safety Advisory.
They further recommended that journalists and other media professionals ahead of the governorship and state assembly elections strive to give equitable coverage to parties and candidates contesting the governorship and states house of assembly elections;
Stick to the facts of electoral and campaign issues and avoid infusing their personal opinions and biases into election and political reports
They also urged the journalists and media practitioners to “refrain from publishing misinformation and disinformation by constantly exercising the discipline of verification; Regularly uphold the tenets of conflict-sensitive areas and issues
Give more prominence to the issues of underrepresented groups (women, youths and persons with disability) especially those residing in rural areas.
Media practitioners and journalists were also encouraged to “give equitable coverage to male and female politicians, particularly the candidates. Publish news and cast headlines that will mitigate conflict and prevent violence, especially in the light of disputes arising from the presidential elections, which may also follow the governorship and states’ house of assembly elections. Take their personal safety seriously given the experience during the February 25, 2023, presidential and national assembly elections with IPC documenting at least 10 cases of press attacks involving over 20 journalists across 7 states and the FCT”.