Ahead of the 2019 general election, scholars and media professionals have called on online journalists/bloggers to be tactful in reporting stories which are capable of inciting violence in the country.
The call was made at a two-day workshop on conflict sensitive reporting, held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
The workshop, which was organized by the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos, through the European Union support (EU) under Component 4b: Support to the Media of the European Union Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) project, recorded 30 participants selected from the South West geo-political zone of the country.
The scholars and seasoned journalists, who were facilitators at the workshop, faulted contents on many online media platforms which are noted to be unethical.
In his presentation, a lecturer at the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan, Dr Dan Jibo spoke about conflict, its causes and effects, as well as how best to report it.
Jibo, whose lecture bordered on ‘Understanding conflict, its nature and character’, said journalists must desist from using inciting words in their reportage which could escalate violence.
He called on journalists to investigate root causes of crises before reporting.
“Efforts must be made on reporting based on investigation not just through surface manifestations of situation.
“And any statement that can trigger conflict must not be allowed in our contents so that the story will not worsen the situation,” he said.
While delivering his lecture on ‘Understanding communication challenges in the age of conflict, hate speech and fake news’, the Dean, College of Social Management Sciences, Caleb University, Imota, Prof Nosa Owens-Ibie advised online journalists/bloggers to dignify themselves as credible sources of information to the public.
Owens-Ibie stressed that the issue of hate speech and fake news had done a lot of harm to the country, adding that journalists must ensure that they are not disintegrating the country through online posts and publications.
Also speaking, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Lagos State Chapter, Dr. Qasim Akinreti stated that online journalism/blogging must be regulated like their traditional counterparts.
Akinreti noted that a lot of “unqualified individuals” have abused the media profession through online platform.
He further called on practitioners of online media to acquire the prerequisite certificate and training to be qualified as media professionals.
The NUJ chairman enjoined online journalists and bloggers who have not registered with NUJ to do so.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the director, IPC, Mr Lanre Arogundade said the training sought to enhance not just the capacity of the participants to be more professional in reporting credible, fair and balanced election stories, but to be language conscious in order to checkmate conflict-inciting contents and hate speech in online media.
Some of the participants who spoke to Global Patriot commended organisers of the workshop, describing it as worthwhile and gratifying.