Don’t escalate conflict, IPC charges online journalists, bloggers.

IPC director, Mr Lanre Arogundade welcoming the participants, with him were the resource persons, Prof Owen (1st right), Dr. Danjibo, and Dr Quasim

The International Press Centre, Lagos has charged online journalists and bloggers to desist from publishing contents capable of causing or expanding conflicting issues in the society and avoid using unverified information.

This charge was given at a two day workshop for online journalists and bloggers on conflict sensitive reporting of election organised by IPC through Component 4b: Support to the Media of the European Union Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) project held at the Continental suites IBB boulevard Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.

Some of the participants after the workshop

Speaking on “Understanding communication challenges in the age of conflict, hate speech and fake news”, Professor Nosa Owens-Ibie described fake news as an unintentional communication containing inaccuracies in part or whole which distort the truth.

The resource person who is the Dean, College of Social and Management Sciences Caleb University, Imota-Nigeria emphasised the need for journalists and bloggers to pursue credibility by not distorting the truth or be biased and sentimental in reportage.

He enjoined journalists to verify information before publishing it and stick to the ethical standards of the profession.

Prof Owen (3rd left), Chairman lagos NUJ, Dr Qasim Akinireti with some participants at the workshop

Earlier in his opening address, the IPC director, Mr Lanre Arogundade noted that the training is necessary having realised that the online environment now occupies a very central place in media operations and has offered a converging point for all the traditional and conventional media.

He explained further that online medium has offered a very broad spectrum of information and dissemination as well as access to the media by millions of Internet users, hence the need to train the online journalists and bloggers to strive to do better to remove hate narratives from political communication so as to make electoral environment healthier.

His words : “Nigeria has a large population of internet users, and as a result there is a rapid increase in the number of journalists offering to practise online to reach this Internet or Online population.

“What this means is that we simply cannot ignore what goes on online in the name of journalism especially against the background of growing perception that online media and social media platforms are the major harbingers of hate speech and stokers of inciting flames.

According to him, the training aims to help participants understand and imbibe the principles of fairness, diversity and objectivity in reporting the electoral process and the elections.

He affirmed that hate speech flourishes in the online environment, and contributes to the shrinking of the political space for the inclusive participation of women and vulnerable groups in the electoral process and elections, as well as the political and governance structure in Nigeria.

“Our expectation is that the online media would be used as a platform for fair, balanced, language sensitive and conflict sensitive reporting of the elections.

The training which engaged 30 online journalists and bloggers selected from the South West states of Nigeria is expected to be replicated in Abuja.