By TAIYE AGBAJE
ABUJA- Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Nigerian journalists have been urged to report political activities responsibly by abiding by the codes and ethics of the profession.
Guest lecturers at a one-day training titled: “The Role of the Media in the General Elections 2023,” gave the charge in Abuja.
The training was organised by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), a German Foundation, in conjunction with the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID).
The Programme Director, Nigeria Media Innovation Programme, Deji Adekunle, said journalists must ensure that information flow before, during and after the polls is factual and unambiguous.
Adekunle, who spoke on: “The Information Disorder Ecosystem in Nigeria Politics and in Reporting Elections,” enumerated factors that contribute to information disorder problem.
He said lack of information seems to be the underlying enabler of misinformation, disinformation and malinformation in news dissemination.
According to him, misinformation can be referred to as unintentional mistake in the spreading of information.
“Disinformation is intentional fabrication of false or manipulated information while malinformation is the weaponisation of truth or tactical breach in confidentiality or information access,” he said.
He urged media practitioners to shun all these acts ahead of the general elections.
The Editor of Dubawa Nigeria, Kemi Busari, who delivered his lecture on: “Deploying Fact-checking and Verification in Elections,” said information shapes the lives of the people in many ways and that several people made decisions based on the information available.
He said some politicians weaponised false information to sway people’s political decisions and false information, if allowed to fester would pollute the information environment.
Busari, who described fact-checking as “the process of verifying information with the intent of determining its correctness,” said it was important journalists fact-check information before reportage.
The Chief Executive Officer of CJID, Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, said writing must be based on verification.
Olorunyomi, in his paper titled: “The Media and Democracy Interface: Why Journalism is the Soul of Democracy,” said false and concocted reporting is not only doing disservice to the people but discouraging the process.
“With democratic practice, news media need to play three key roles; promoting accountability as stated in Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution, watchdogs and agenda setters, and to strengthen the quality of democratic process,” he said.
Ezenwa Nwagwu, Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reform and Convener, Say No Campaign, said journalists must be conscious of their security as they cover 2023 electioneering activities.
Nwagwu, who spoke on: “Elections: Trends in the Safety of Journalists,” said when covering political events and rallies, journalists must have their identification accredited.
“You should report and work as a team, wear branded media outfits for proper identification, have a strategic escape plan before any assignment
“Cars should be parked at strategic locations. Journalists should locate landmarks for easy access points and always prepare for mental and vocal abuse,’ he said.
The Resident Representative of KAS Nigeria, Ms Marija Peran, said the foundation was committed to strengthening democracy across the globe.
She said the training was important to build the capacity of journalists towards sustaining democracy.
Peran, who said the 2023 general elections was critical to Nigeria’s democracy, said it would determine the future of the country.
She urged journalists to stick to the ethics of the profession while covering elections and live to their responsibilities as watchdogs of the society.
According to her, a functioning media coverage is critical to the success of the elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no fewer than 54 journalists across the country were trained at the workshop.(NAN)