Determined to leave no stone unturned in readiness for the 2023 general elections, some journalists are in Lagos undergoing a two-day capacity building workshop on conflict-sensitive reporting and countering fake news. Organised by the Centre for Democracy Development (CDD) in partnership with the Nigeria Union of Journalists and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the
Determined to leave no stone unturned in readiness for the 2023 general elections, some journalists are in Lagos undergoing a two-day capacity building workshop on conflict-sensitive reporting and countering fake news.
Organised by the Centre for Democracy Development (CDD) in partnership with the Nigeria Union of Journalists and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the workshop is specifically for journalists and media practitioners in southwest part of the country.
The workshop, which is being attended by not less than sixty journalists and participants drawn from civil society organisations was opened by the national president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Chris Isiguzo, who charged journalists to be peace-oriented in their reports.
He also urged journalists to embrace knowledge about electoral matters by standing against false information which can impede citizens from making the right decisions while voting. “In whatever we do as Journalists, it is very necessary to take the issue of peace as a cardinal point and take into consideration the need to be careful so that areas that are already fragile do not explode or implode.
“Peace is a basic requirement in a democracy. No democracy can flourish in the absence of peace. While we concede that it is inevitable to eliminate crises and conflicts from our society, however, it is important if deliberate efforts are made toward conflict resolution and peace building.
“As Journalists, we are expected to develop a thorough understanding of the elections and the electoral process, an understanding of conflicts and convey these to citizens in a way that reflects the truth in all their complexities.
“The proper foundation established by Journalists will provide citizens with the opportunities they require to make informed judgments about issues involved and perhaps help the government in taking meaningful decisions.
Also speaking, the Executive Director, Centre for Democracy Development Idayat Hassan, noted that the training would assist journalists to give credible reporting to the public. She added that due to the influence of the media on the public, journalists must be committed to quality reportage at election time.
Represented by Mr Austin Aigbe, the program manager, Idayat Hassan further posited that “because citizens trust the information from the media, they must be sensitive to what they report to the public to engender a peaceful election”
Journalists were admonished to be well-versed with the Electoral Act, the Constitution and other tools needed to avoid misinforming to the public.
No election without peace in Nigeria
Meanwhile, the Centre for Democracy Development (CDD)has urged Nigerian journalists and media practitioners to eschew news reporting that may instigate electoral violence and conflicts in the coming elections in 2023. The non-governmental agency noted that Nigeria can only exist as well as its electioneering process if the media stays true to ethical reportages in promoting peaceful conduct at the polls.
CDD’s Senior Programme Officer, Austin Aigbe in a post workshop interview with NDR said that, while politicians are usually eager to make violent claims, media should be ready to dispel information that can sabotage peace and orderliness during the elections, which is why the CSO has taken the responsibility of training and encouraging journalists on how to be aware of sensational information that can instigate violence in society during the elections period.
He said the journalists are expected to be conversant with some languages and expressions that can generate conflicts in their news reporting and stay away from them. He also added that media professionals and journalists must be aware of their environment so as not to become agents of attack on a section of people.
“Elections create an opportunity that breeds conflict because political actors are always in a hurry to win elections every party wants to win elections, so each one creates an unnecessary ambience that can create conflicts what we are asking is that these sensitive environments, and these conflicts prone environments, the way you understand it will determine the way you write”, he said.
“So, when they send it to a media organisation and the media publishes it, it helps to enhance the readership, the listenership and viewership of that fake news. There is a tendency for a media organization to fall into the trap created by fake news developers and when you fall, you become the tool to promote conflict.
“Journalists need to tell the truth, the ethics is not to lie, because true journalism is on truth, but when you say something is true and you are going to re-emphasize it, it is already true. Why do you need to say that 5000 people were slaughtered instead of saying 5000 people were killed, it is already bad that 5000 people are killed. You don’t need to use the word slaughter. Slaughter means another language entirely.
“Again, the way you report news can instigate another level of violence, so that is why we say when you release your news, though it is true, in fact-checking, something is true, we will say why do you need to re emphasise it, once you start emphasising truth, it becomes something else. You cannot undermine truth, false is what we are dealing against.
“But sometimes in re echoing truth that will lead to violence. As news reporters, and journalists, watch your cultural sensitivity to your environment because you tend to further draw the country into another violence than stopping it. Nigeria must begin to be conscious of the Nigerian state, every one of us must be the one to report any strange movements. People must begin to promote peace in their area. It is only when there is peace in Nigeria that we can even survive. Leave the elections alone, if there is no peace in Nigeria who will be talking about the elections that is why we must promote peace during the elections” he said.
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