As the gubernatorial election in Ondo State is fast approaching, experts in the media industry today charged Journalists in the State to allow equity and adequate inclusiveness in reporting parties and stakeholders that involved in the electoral process.
This charge was given at the Stakeholders’ Media RoundTable organised by the International Press Centre (IPC), in collaboration with the Institute for Media and Society, for Journalists in Ondo State on ‘Professional, Inclusive and Conflict Sensitive Reporting of the Ondo State Governorship Election’, held at the Royal bird Tower Alagbaka Akure, the state capital.
The charge was coming upon the heels of observation by the International Press Centre, from its recent research which indicated that some segments of the society, especially women, and the people living with disabilities were under-reported in the electoral process, including some political parties.
In a presentation entitled: “Towards Professional, Inclusive and Conflict Sensitivity Reporting of the Ondo Election: Issues from IPC media monitoring report and expectations of the media on election coverage”, it was observed that coverage was skewed in favour of the two major Political parties, the APC, and the PDP. IPC observed that there was no compliance with the code on equitable media access for all political parties and candidates.
Giving the presentation, the Head of the Mass-Communication Department, Joseph Ayo Babalola University Ikeji-Arakeji,Osun State, Prof. Tokunbo Adaja advised media organisations and professionals to desist from Journalism of Compromise and embrace high standard of professionalism in order to earn and sustain public confidence.
He further charged them to embrace the principle of multi-perspectivism by giving room for all available views and opinions.
He further recommended that Journalists should promote issued-based campaigns by engaging parties and aspirants on issues of national interest.
They should also make their reports more inclusive by giving voice to youths, women, the poor, and the people living with disabilities, says Prof. Adaja.
The media scholar also charged the participants to explore and exploit the provisions of Freedom of Information Act in getting and disseminating correct information that will enable citizenry to make informed decisions.
In another presentation on ‘Ensuring fair reporting of Ondo Election: Issues for broadcast media coverage from IMS monitoring of Media and elections reportage’, the need for training of Journalists on diversity sensitivity was emphasised.
Prof. Ayo Ojebode from the department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan who delivered the presentation noted that media organisations and professionals were caught up in a tight situation beyond their power due to the ownership interest, hence the reason some couldn’t operate in accordance with the ethics of the profession.
He enjoined them to pursue equity rather than equality in reporting conflicting issues and electoral process and give visibility to the minority.
He noted that the media had agenda setting power, and implored the Professionals to use such power to change the cause of event in their environs.