Former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba has challenged members of the Guild Of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) to sanitize the social media being used by untrained Nigerians to promote hate across the country.
Chief Osoba, who spoke as chairman of the Second Annual Conference of GOCOP in Lagos Friday, admitted that social media has brought what was thought to be tomorrow to today, but regretted that many Nigerians are abusing it and that it is manifesting in the shape of fake news and unverified information.
Chief Osoba, who was represented by the Executive Director of Diamond Award for Media Excellence, Chief Lanre Idowu noted that some bloggers are in the habit promoting mischief and blackmail.
All such negative aspects of the social media, the former Governor said, threaten the integrity of the online medium.
“It is a global concern that you need to continuously look into. How can we reduce the proclivity for this errant behaviour? How much training and retraining can you put together for your members and other online practitioners to ensure we do not allow the menace to grow?
“I am aware your association is made up of responsible journalists but all it takes for your reputation to be sullied is a handful of the deviant people, who have other objectives for their presence in the public sphere. Whilst I will be looking forward to the outcome of your deliberations, I note that when the subjects of discourse touch the economy, credible elections and security of our country, there is no doubt that there is a lot to chew upon.
“Precipitate publications on the economy without appropriate contextual analysis are not the forte of responsible journalism. Naked partisanship that downplays the views and positions of some candidates so as to promote our biases is not the way to build credibility for our news organisations or the electoral process.”
Chief Osoba stressed that the media have a major role to play as impartial arbiters that should present the issues, the candidates and their positions on these issues in a way that helps the public to make sense out of the contending views.
He said that it is good to get the news first but that it is better to get it right.
“Your association should drum this point into the hearing of your members for if there is a medium that has the greatest potential to stoke conflict through precipitate and unverified information, it is the online media.
“In a country with still a large population of the uneducated, we must be careful not to unwittingly stoke violent conflicts, stunt economic development and imperil the future of our people.
“I urge you to remain apostles of good journalism where facts remain sacred and informed commentary is free.”
Prof Ralph Akinfeleye at the conference, called on members of GOCOP, to help stop the spread of fake news.
The revered university don made the passionate appeal while speaking at the second edition of the annual GOCOP conference.
While reviewing the theme of the conference: Online Publishers Role Towards A Sustainable Economy, Credible Election And Security In Nigeria, Akinfeleye challenged members of GOCOP to put an end to the spread of fake news and hate speeches in the country.
“As we approach 2019 general elections I want to appeal that you help us stop and checkmate the spread of fake news. You are responsible journalists and not citizen journalists who practice journalese. As Online Publishers you must constantly campaign against fake news. Always separate yourselves from bloggers, because you are trained journalists. The society looks up to you for direction and accurate news at all times.”
Akinfeleye who also thanked the keynote speaker, Prof Chidi Odinkalu for delivering what he described as a thought provoking lecture, further advised online journalists to get involved in media literacy, improve on reading culture and adhere strictly to the ethics and integrity of the job if they truly want to stand out and be respected.
Chief Tola Adeniyi, former Managing Director of Daily Times challenged online publishers in Nigeria to help Nigerians to rediscover their voice in view of the ineffectiveness of labour unions among others who used to champion the cause of the masses.
In his remarks at the 2nd Guild of Corporate Online Publishers’ (GOCOP) annual conference in Lagos on Friday, the accomplished journalist and great columnist said GOCOP has come of age and it should do more because Nigeria has lost its voice.
He acknowledged that the online publishers were enjoying a rise in importance and relevance, and they are now in the right position to help educate the people on the way forward.
According to him, the online publishers now have more reach than all the 114 newspapers in Nigeria put together, and they should naturally take up the role of the teachers.
Unlike the good old days of the traditional media when Sunday Times was selling 1.1 million copies a day, he said no newspaper sells 40,000 copies now in the country, while the online media are read all over the world.
He said it is a good thing that GOCOP is coming during the time of the social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram among others, and therefore challenged members to train themselves and even engage in regular editorial writing.
He made reference to a lecture ‘Politics of Language’ which he gave in Canada in 2011 as it exposed the ignorance and danger of lack of knowledge even in societies that were expected to be enlightened.
For instance he said nations with population of over 50 million people in Nigeria are erroneously called tribes like the Yoruba and Ibo.
In fact, he said there is no tribe in Nigeria.
“It’s important to have education. We can’t free ourselves if we don’t have knowledge.”
Specifically, he said journalists must acquire more knowledge than the people they write for.
A top Nigerian Journalist and editor, Dele Giwa, who was killed through letter bomb in 1986, was also remembered at the second Annual Conference of the Guild Of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP).
The guest speaker at the Conference, Professor Chidi Odinkalu reminded the audience that the late editor-in-chief of rested Newswatch magazine was killed over 32 years ago and asked for a minute silence for him and other Journalists that were killed in the course of their duty.