The importance of the social media cannot be overemphasized in the dissemination of news. Hence the growing need for journalists and related stakeholders to acquire relevant knowledge of the use of social media and take advantage of it in the reporting and dissemination of news and information to the public during, before and after election
The importance of the social media cannot be overemphasized in the dissemination of news. Hence the growing need for journalists and related stakeholders to acquire relevant knowledge of the use of social media and take advantage of it in the reporting and dissemination of news and information to the public during, before and after election in the country. This was the general consensus at a forum in Lagos for journalists and related stakeholders ahead of 2015 elections.
The forum, tagged, ‘media tweet-a-thon’ with the theme: “using new and social media to promote citizens’ participation in elections” was organized by the International Press Centre (IPC) with the Support of the UNDP-DGD111 and aimed at examining the role that social media can play in the forthcoming general elections in Nigeria and how the media and citizens can use this to engage the political process.
Drawing inference from the growing engagements and improvements in the use of social media and ICT related technology in previous elections, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, highlighted how the social media has been useful in reporting election proceedings and results.
“The disappointment in the 2007 election would have been better reported if social media were used, but INEC in 2011 was successful in disseminating the general election results through the social media”, he said, joining the discourse of the event via Skype call.
“Politicians are already taking advantage of the social media to brand themselves for the forthcoming election and media practitioners should also take advantage of this and use it to engage politicians”, he added, noting that it was of importance to use every means possible to ensure transparent and credible elections in 2015.
“All we want is a transparent election for which we should use every tool possible. With the social media, Nigerians can now tweet INEC and pass on information. INEC however should also be more proactive ahead 2015”, he added.
Guest speaker at the event, Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin, Online Editor of The Nation Newspaper explained what the social media is and how more effective it would be for journalism practice, if used, hand in hand with the traditional mass media.
“Even before news organization report an event, it can be uploaded on the social media and it will generate feedback from people on their opinion about the event. More than ever before, the new and social media are being used to promote citizen participation in elections. Though the traditional media are still largely used by political parties, candidates and the electoral agencies, they have stepped up in the use of new and social media like text messages, websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and others”, he said.
“The social media is used to bridge the gap between the actual time an event happens and the time it is being reported by the traditional media”, he stated, noting that citizens prefer social media that are interactive in which they can make contribution, air their views and exchange ideas with other people.
Stressing the need for media organization and journalists to train and retrain themselves in order to ensure that they are not left out in the current trend, he added: “Those responsible for promoting citizen participation in election should become more knowledgeable in the use of new and social media to effectively utilize the tools”
Also contributing to the discussion, Mr. Lateef Odegbenle, a participant from Ray power FM said, “as journalists we should embrace the use of the social media because we are not just figurehead, we should make effort and follow the current trend”. Also adding her voice, Mrs. Nike Sanda from MITV re-emphasized the need for journalists to know and learn how to use the various social media as this is seen as a challenge among journalists.