The United States Consulate in Nigeria on Monday urged media practitioners to be alive to its responsibility of holding the government accountable to the electorates to deepen democratic ideals.
Mr Stephen Ibelli, Public Affairs Officer US Consulate Lagos made the call while speaking at a post election capacity building workshop for Bayelsa based media practitioners in Yenagoa.
He noted that media was the fourth pillar in democracy and had the critical role of enlightening the electorates and equipping them with the information to make judgement.
He explained that the media contribute to accountability and transparency by independent unbiased reportage of government activities with relation to the pledges made before elections.
He noted that the media has performed fairly well in promoting and defending democracy in Nigeria amidst numerous challenges in the operating environment.
“I have seen how media contribute to accountability and transparency in Nigeria. You play a major role in engendering good governance and this is not what can be done easily.
“Beyond informing the people, you should give citizens a voice and tools they need to continue to engage the government for the sustainable and lasting change they desire.
“In America, the media is referred to as the fourth pillar of democracy. I must commend you for playing that role by protecting democracy because it cannot live in the dark.
“So this training is not only aimed at improving your reporting skills but to encourage you to report the local community in their states.
“You are to play a major role in engendering good governance and this is not what can be easily overlooked.
“Beyond information gathering, you should give citizens a voice or tools they need to engage the government for sustainable and lasting change. Media is the fourth pillar of democracy. You protect democracy,” Ebelli said
The training is aimed at honing the skills of journalists in Bayelsa to enable them to report the local community in the state.
The journalists, drawn from Yenagoa based representatives of different media houses across the country, were trained on current trends in Media and Democratic Accountability, Reporting Conflicts, Journalism and Ethics and Professional Development.
In his presentation, Professor Lai Oso of School of Communication Lagos State University, noted that wide reach of the mass media makes it imperative for government to be alive to its responsibilities.
Oso maintained that the mass media has a daunting challenge in disclosing what the government wants to be kept away from public glare.
He explained that news was the number one product of journalism adding that the media has been singled out to monitor governance to ensure accountability.
“The major responsibility of the Media is to hold the government accountable. And to achieve this, journalists must engage in investigative journalism that brings attention to wrongdoing,” Oso said.
Best of Regards,
News Agency of Nigeria,