Nigerian media have again been advised to shun any form of hate and dangerous speech in its reportage in order for peace and unity to prevail in the country. Experts at a media workshop in Lagos with the theme, “Media Sensitization against Hate and Dangerous Speech” organized by Centre for Information Technology and Development
Experts at a media workshop in Lagos with the theme, “Media Sensitization against Hate and Dangerous Speech” organized by Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) with support from the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) are of the view that a lot still need to be done in tackling the issue of hate speech in the media.
On her part, Priscilla Ankut, Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) said the essence of the project was to minimize violence in Nigeria. She said such programmes had been carried out in other parts of the countries but because of the importance of Lagos from the media perspective, hence, the need to sensitise journalists in the state as most media organisations are concentrated in Lagos.
“We support security process, dialogue, media training, gender issues on women and girls. It’s a project we consider very important, to report in a way that do not exacerbate tension. We want the media to report from the social responsibility perspective,” she said
Also speaking, Lanre Arogundade, Director, International Press Centre (IPC) said the issue is something that needs to be constantly addressed. Recounting the role of IPC in the last general elections, he said, “During the course of last election, we monitored how newspapers reported stories especially on hate speech. It is one area we do not pay attention to especially conflict areas like Nigeria. Choice of our words could lead to conflict in the society. Hate speech is not limited to a section of the media, it cuts across and we want everybody to be ambassador of good speech in the media.”
In his address entitled “Understanding Dangerous Speech, Monitoring Hate Speech – A synopsis of the result” Programme Officer, CITAD, Abdulganiyu Maidumbayya said access to social media make the platform susceptible as it can be used for good or bad cause. According to him, facebook remains the major medium hate speech is transmitted in Nigeria and election is one of the major drivers of hate speech.
“The language used can cause violence. There must be a powerful speaker with a high degree of influence over the audience. The audience has grievances and fear that the speaker can cultivate. In Rwanda, a group of people were described as cockroach and were treated as such hence, the conflict. The medium used in speech determines its implication. If through the media, large audience is addressed.”
The guest speaker, Dr. Tunde Akanni in his speech titled, “Hate Speech and Media Reporting” declared that most comments on media efforts on conflict have always not been palatable. He explained that after the civil war the media have not fared better as there have been conflicts in various parts of the country. He however queried that how much intervention has the nation had from the concerned parties – those who supposed to know to ensure there would not be repeat.
“The media is the most reliable channel of reconciliatory conflict. Journalism is not the same with mediation. Adherence to ethics is very important. Conflict sensitive journalism challenges us to further appreciate our practice in the society. There is need to pay more attention to blogs. The media must make conscious effort to neutralize conflict. Truth must be constant in our reportage,” he said.
Deji Elumoye, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ), Lagos council, queried the role of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) during the last election arguing that hate adverts ran for long during the period and “some of us wonder where NBC is.”
However, Director, NBC, Lagos Operation, Bunmi Cole said there is responsible journalism which must be adhered to. She said NBC is not handicapped. “During election, some broadcast stations were irresponsible. NBC sanctions even up till October 19, we will still sanction. If you are a professional and you lose your job, don’t you think you will be sought for?” it is this panic measure. Until we start to do it well, we will not get anywhere. NBC can’t be everywhere, you can tell us. If we are professionals, the society will be a better place.”
Arogundade said there is need to adopt conflict sensitive journalism. According to him, for every conflict there are two sides to it. “Let there be diverse sides to your reporting to reduce violence in the society. We want to see more independent regulatory agencies in preventing hate and dangerous speech. In conflictual environment everybody suffers. Media should promote peace,” he said.