JOURNALISTS ENJOINED TO BE CONFLICT SENSITIVE IN REPORTING ELECTION PROCESSES
BY GABRIEL OKECHUKWU, FRCN PORT HARCOURT
The need for media professionals to be conflict sensitive while reporting election activities and post-election fallouts has been highlighted.
That was part of the focus of “Stakeholders’ Roundtable on the Media Monitoring Report on Trends in Coverage of 2023 Electoral Process”, which was put together by International Press Centre IPC, in Conjunction with Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ, Rivers State Council, at Echelon Heights Hotel, Port Harcourt Rivers State.
The Roundtable which drew participants from media professionals representing various media organizations in Rivers State, both Government and Private owned, was meant to re-conscientize journalists of the enormous roles they play in fostering societal peace and tranquility through their reports, as well as the dangers inherent if personal emotions and sentiments override professionalism in the reports.
Talking to Journalists during the training, the Executive Director, International Press Centre, IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundede who spoke on “The Imperatives of the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage, in Reporting the 2023 Electoral Process,” emphasized the importance of ethics of the profession while writing stories.
Mr. Arogundede who charged newsmen to put personal feelings aside but highlight social peace, encouraged participants to bring out issues the people are not happy about and present same to government.
According to the IPC Executive Director, journalists have a huge task of holding politicians accountable on their campaign promises and manifestos to mount pressure on them to fulfill those promises.
On the code of election coverage, he took journalists through interactive and practical sessions by reading out portions of the code, such as section 2.1.1, which stated thus: “A journalist shall report election in a fair, accurate and balanced manner.”
Similarly, one of the facilitators and senior lecturer with Rivers State University, Dr. Harcourt Whyte who reviewed IPC’s January 2023 report, acknowledged that the report was comprehensive as it revealed gaps in reportage, especially on women and People with disabilities, as well as inability of INEC to reach out to the public through its News platform.
Dr. Whyte however noted that the report did not lay emphasis on local tabloids which would have given clearer information about the plight of rural dwellers.
He also observed that where the report indicated that Nation Newspaper for Instance, gave prominence to PDP similar to what it did to APC, it was not explicit on whether the front-page mentions were positive or negative.
On his part, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ, Rivers State Council, Comrade Stanley Job Stanley, while applauding IPC for bringing the training to Rivers State for the benefit of journalists, added that the report by IPC has tasked media professionals to give Voice to women, less privileged, People with disabilities and those living in rural communities.
There were also goodwill messages from the Chairperson, Nigerian Association of Women Journalists NAWOJ, Rivers State, Mrs. Susan Serekara Nwikhana and Executive Director, Kebetkache Women Development and Resources Centre, Emem Okon, with suggestions that campaign promises to be published need to include those of other candidates who did not emerge victorious during the election, in addition to that of the winner.
Pictures from IPC