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Nigeria journalists tasked on reporting conflicts


ABUJA – Mr Klemens Momkes, Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy in Nigeria on Tuesday tasked Nigeria journalists to be “sensitive” in reporting conflict so as not to incite conflicts in the society.
Mömkes made the remark in Abuja at a media training for journalists on “Conflict and Sensitive Reporting” in Nigeria.
He said that the media had the power to either incite violent conflicts or influence conflict resolution.
He, however, urged journalists to always seek for common grounds among the people to douse tension rather than heightening it.
“One does not have to be a war correspondent to recognise that journalism and news media can incite violent conflicts.
“In 1994, Radio Milles Collines in Rwanda incited genocide by employing metaphors and hate speech.
“Serbian State Broadcasting during the 1995 and 1999 Balkan conflicts is almost equally infamous,” he said.
According to him, incompetent journalism and partisan news management can generate misinformation, which inflames xenophobia, ethnic hatred, class warfare and violent conflict in almost any fragile state.
“The anti-Thai violence in Cambodia in 2003, triggered entirely by partisan media, is a more recent example.
“Radio Netherlands’ website on counteracting hate media indicates that hate radio is currently operating on five continents,”he said.
He, however, said that the potential for journalists to influence conflict resolution was being less recognised.
According to him, it has also not been well resolved what role the media should play in the resolution of conflicts in the society.
“Journalism means reporting that seeks international standards of media reliability such as accuracy, impartiality or fair balance, and social responsibility.
“Although unremarked in the daily grind of news and in journalism education, the reality is that reliable journalism indeed can contribute to conflict reduction.
“Reliable reporting, and responsibly written editorials and opinions, do things such as establishing communication among disputing parties, correcting misperceptions, identifying underlying interests and offering solutions,” he added.
Mömkes said the media provided an emotional outlet, could offer solutions, and build confidence.
The German envoy said the programme was aimed at training journalists on how and why they should be responsible in their reportage of conflict situations in the society. (NAN)

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