Following the 2023 general elections and off-cycle elections in Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo states, media practitioners and a group of relevant stakeholders met to assess the media’s role in promoting and deepening inclusive reporting on electoral and democratic governance issues. The virtual engagement which held on Wednesday was organised by the International Press Centre as
Following the 2023 general elections and off-cycle elections in Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo states, media practitioners and a group of relevant stakeholders met to assess the media’s role in promoting and deepening inclusive reporting on electoral and democratic governance issues.
The virtual engagement which held on Wednesday was organised by the International Press Centre as part of the European Union Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EUSDGN) project to discuss the ongoing 18-month media monitoring project between October 2022 and March 2023, in which the IPC monitoring unit had monitored the coverage of the 2023 off-cycle elections in Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo as reported in 20 print/online newspapers and the INEC website/Twitter.
The media monitoring project, which focuses on professional coverage of political party activities including conflict-sensitive reporting, sensationalism, mis/disinformation, hate speech, inciting comments, critical stakeholders, and trust in the electoral process was based on strengthening the media for fair, accurate, ethical and inclusive reporting of the electoral processes and elections.
Speaking with respect to the findings from the monitored media reports in the past months and the Imperatives of Mainstreaming Women, Youths and Disability Groups in Democratic Reporting Professor Jide Jimoh of the Department of Journalism, School of Communication, Lagos State University, LASU, Lagos, stated that the media focused more on the major political parties, leaving the minority out of the scope of their reportages
He further noted that notable media platforms in the country reported the major political parties on the rate of 95% while the remaining 9.5% was given to the minor parties, noting that due to this there were few investigative reports from the media to balance the narrative in the country.
In his analysis, the scholar explained that the media paid more attention to the major political parties due to their access to resources to drive media coverage through press conferences, rallies, releases and other pecuniary advantages.
“Ruling parties dominate news stories, my explanation: This consistent with other findings and the reason is as explained above.News format dominate other reporting formats 90.5% to 9.5%Subtle indictment of the media: Low investigative and investigative initiatives. But the hue and cry over the performance of the media predates the advent of the internet, social media and the digital age.”
He further explained that media did not give the same medium and equal reference to the minority groups such as the youth, PWDs and women, instead the media also joined the agenda setting to promote the majority group which was against the expected role from the media.
“They tend to focus on powerful people: political leaders, the rich and famous (film stars or musicians). Most newsmakers are men (women just seem to be valued for their bodies). Most newsworthy people seem to live in towns or cities.They often reinforce stereotypes”.
In his recommendation, Professor Jimoh urged the media to avoid the use of sensitive language in reporting gender, conflict and similar issues in the society, adding that, the media is expected to be the bearer of responsible professionalism in the country.
He also added that the media is expected to “focus on the powerless and the poor: people who are ‘invisible and unheard’. We’d like to hear more about (and from) women. And how about more stories from rural areas? And children? We need them to challenge stereotypes and find fresh, human angles”
Speaking on the role of the media in promoting Persons With Disabilities (PWD), Jakes Ekpelle, the founder of TAF Africa (formerly The Albino Foundation), stated that the media can take a front seat in advocating the need for inclusivity in society and its dividend to governance and democracy.
Mr. Ekpelle further explained the importance of changing the narrative in people’s perspective about the PWDs rests on the media, adding that the task begins with the use of language in the representation in their reportages and the role they attach and link them with.
He further urged the media to shine a light on inclusivity and the promotion of minority groups in the country.
In the same vein, Vaneza Gregory, the European Union Project Coordinator, Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), urged the media to focus on the achievement of women instead of their endeavours, adding that their professional engagements should be prioritised.
She also advocated for a safe space where women can feel comfortable by adopting a culture of engaging everyone, regardless of gender. She also suggested that media companies normalize sending female journalists to women in order to boost their assertiveness in media engagement.
Tolulope Famoroti who represented YIAGA Africa, also charged the journalists and media practitioners to yield their reports towards positivity towards the youth, adding that the failure media of engagement has declined youth participation in government
In his closing remarks, the Executive Director of the International Press Centre, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, urged the media to be more deliberate about reporting inclusivity in the Nigerian media space. He added that such action will further improve good governance and Nigeria’s democracy.
Mr Arogundade also urged journalists to report inclusivity from different perspectives, noting that it would also enhance their professionalism and their expertise.