The Director-General of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Asishana Okauru, has expressed concern with the types of media reports in recent times, describing them as disappointing, adding that some of the news headlines sometimes threatened the very fabrics that keep the country together.
He said this at the opening of a 2-day Training for Journalists on Peace and Conflict-Sensitive Reporting jointly organised the NGF and Premium Times in Abuja.
The DG said the training was in response to the new dynamics, which have again brought the media to the fore in the types of reporting that would either keep the country together or drive us all apart.
Okauru explained that the NGF as a platform for all the 36 State Governors believes in the fundamental and the inalienable importance of freedom of speech and would continue to partner with the media not just to keep the country together, but to ensure that media practitioners that associate with the body are trained and retrained to live up to the responsibility that this noble profession has bestowed on all of you.
“As far as I know, most of you here by experience and training are among the best hands in the business. Most of you cover sensitive beats because you are trusted by your media organisation. This beat is just one of the sensitive ones, and for us, bringing you up to speed on modern techniques of your trade and its trends of reporting is not negotiable.
“At the NGF Secretariat, we are convinced that no nation develops without a responsible media. The Rwandan experience is both frightening and appropriate to cite at this stage.
“On our part, we expect high standards of professionalism and a keen eye to details from all of you.
The scope of our mandate cuts across the following areas: Health, Education, Agriculture, Security, the Economy, and Infrastructure. We expect that as the team that reports our activities, you will use your platform to enhance the wellbeing of Nigerians. The objective at this Forum is to build a country where no Nigerian feels left behind.”
On his part, Publisher, Premium Times, Dapo Olorunyomi, described non-sensitive reporting as unprofessional reporting. He added that the consequences of unprofessional reporting can lead to “negative, tragic, outcomes, however, as the eminent scholar, Robert Manoff, used to say, professional journalism, in the context of conflict, can help achieve the following goals: counter misconceptions and rumours; build consensus; facilitate communication between conflicting parties; analyse the conflict and educate on the process of resolution, and propose options and solutions to the conflict.
In her paper, Hate Speech and Fake News, the imperative of ethics and professional reporting, Kadira Ahmed, said, “Hate speech, spoken or written that expresses prejudice against a particular group, especially on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation and which may lead to hate or harm against them.
She noted that it’s the duty of journalists to provide truthful, factual, balanced and objective information to society.