• As EU, Media NGO engage practitioners on fake news and hate speech

By Timothy Omobude

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Participants at the workshop in a group photograph

The International Press Centre, IPC, has charged Nigeria online Journalists and bloggers to be professional in their news reportage before, during and after the 2019 election.

The president of IPC Mr. Lanre Arogundade, stated this during his opening address for the two-day workshop training for online Journalists and bloggers in Abuja.

He said the training became necessary because of the rising trend of hate speech and unprofessional reporting by Journalists especially on the online media owning to the fact that fake news and hate speech thrive more in online domain.

Represented by the program manager, Mrs. Stella Nwofia, Arogundade pointed out that, the online domain now occupies a very dominant place in daily media operations, as it now offers wider coverage more than the traditional and conventional media.

“The Television, Radio and Print now have online version, the online media now offers a very broad space of information dissemination where large population of the public now have access through internet usage, what this means is that we simply cannot ignore what is going on online in the name of journalism especially against the background of growing perception that online media and social media platforms are the major avenue for hate speech that incites to violence”

According to him, in politics especially during election, violence and conflict could occur if online journalism practitioners and bloggers refuse to embrace conflict sensitive guidelines.

“The emerging consensus therefore is that online journalists and bloggers need to strive to do better so they could be part of the efforts that seek to address hate narratives as it concerns communication vis-a-vis using our various channels as a way of making the environment a safer place.

He urged the participants to understand and imbibe the principles of fairness, accuracy and objectivity in reporting any issues more importantly on the electoral process.

Presenting her lecture in the two days workshop that attracted participants from all over the country excluding South-west, Dr Ruqayyah Yusuf Aliyu, of the Department of Information and Media Studies, Bayero University Kano, who titled her presentation: Understanding Conflict, Its Nature and Character; said ” Conflict is inevitable, and it happens most when an individual feels his/her interest is threatened.

She said, it can be positive and constructive or negative and destructive depending on its cause and management, saying “equity, fairness and justice helps in great measure in preventing, curtailing and resolving conflict.”

She maintained that, “Online reporters can contribute to curbing  conflict by avoiding hate speech and fake news.

Also speaking, Executive Director of Centre for Information Technology Development, CITAD, Dr Yunusa Yau, opined that the implication of reporting news capable of generating hate speech and conflict by journalists may be regarded as effort of those who do not really care about what happen be it negative and can lead to threat to their liberty.

He enjoined participants to be professional in the discharge of their duties as information vendors.

Similarly, Premium Times, Editor in Chief, Mr Muskilu Mojeed in another presentation titled; Social Media and Elections: Giving Practical Effect to Conflict Sensitive Reporting Online, said journalists should explore better ways of telling stories in such a way that conflict is mitigated within the country.

“Journalists can provide parties involved with the information they need to make wise decision in managing and resolving conflict as well as making it possible for them to trust each other”.