(Side shot of participants during the exercise)
As Nigeria moves to conduct another round of elections, a non-government organization, African Media Development Foundation (AMDF), on Thursday, February 7, organised a one-day training for reporters and editors who are likely to report the exercise.
The keynote presenter and a veteran Journalist, Elder Joseph Edegbo, reminded participants at the training, on the need to place public interest above personal interest in their reports before, during and after the elections in order to ensure peaceful outcome.
According to him, reporters as the first gatekeepers, and editors as final gatekeepers, should double check every facts and figures available to them before going to the press.
“Online are beyond a particular territory. It is an international platform where people across the globe have access to. Whatever discussion we have, we believed, is going to have impact in the forthcoming election.
“We are now heading towards 2019 elections. This meeting is to ensure best journalism practices before, during and after the elections. Our role is to help the public look close to understand the political realities.
“We must commit to delivering thorough, verified and unbiased stories. At the same time, we must resist from publishing stories capable of jeopardizing the larger efforts to save democracy. Our duty is to maintain neutrality, honesty and fairness. These are crucial elements that bring credibility.
“We should be abreast of electoral legal framework with regards to electoral matters. Understanding political parties guidelines and constitutions, will help one to defend political arguments. This is because, with the guidelines, you can always know where errors come from.”
On hate speech he said, “the responsibility of journalists is to avoid use eif derogatory words in print, online or electronic broadcast. Any hateful words from an interviewee during a live programme, the anchor should immediately tell him to withdraw such statement because he is the one in control.
“There is need for us to exhibit self censorship in order not to set fire on an issue because we are gatekeepers. So, it is our responsibility to play down the hate speech.
“As much as possible, every statement of fact should be double checked before publishing. Detatch yourself from whatever is before you makes you a better newsman”, he urged.
In a remark, The Executive Director, AMDF, Iliya Kure, charged journalists covering election and crime to always keep the safety mechanism in their mind as they go about their journalistic business.
However, the Coordinator of AMDF, Sekyen Daddik, urged the participants to step down the training in their respective media organizations so as to guide against any eventuality around election reporting.
The participants were drawn from conventional, online and new media.
Sola Ojo sent in this report.