The need for journalists to be guided by their professional ethics while reporting conflict issues has again been stressed.
This time, it is by the Director General, National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, Mallam Balarabe Shehu, at this year’s Broadcasting Submit in Lagos, entitled
“Conflict reporting and imperatives of professionalism”.
Mallam Shehu noted that it was the duty of media houses to ensure their programmes are devoid of contents that could create fear, anxiety and chaos among members of the public, thereby checking the lingering security challenges in the country.
The summit which was organised by the NBC was attended by Veterans, Editors and presenters in the broadcast industry from all that States of the Federation.
In an address of welcome, Mallam Shehu noted that the media play a vital role of informing and educating the masses on issues as they affect them, but in performing their duties, practioners should be mindful of the situation in the country.
According to Mallam Shehu, the media should be objective in their reportage, balance opinions and desist from being a mountpiece for any interest groups who may not wish well for the country.
“The media exist to assist the people get access to information that is of interest to them. But in playing that role, professionals must be conscious of their responsibility to the public by making sure that their programmes are devoid of contents that create fear, anxiety as well as induce crisis. They must not be mouthpiece for any interest groups. They should balance their reports, be objective and try as much as possible to be neutral”.
The NBC DG explained that the broadcast summit was conceived out of the need to maintain professional ethnics among practioners in the interest of the nation’s socioeconomic and cultural well-being.
“NBC set aside this summit to address critical national issues”.
He said one of the reasons for the summit was to address critical issues as they affect the broadcast industry.
Delivering the first paper, a Former Acting DG , NBC, Professor Armstrong Idachaba explained that for effective coverage of conflict situations aimed at saving lives, biased, unverified reports and sensasionalised headlines should be discouraged.
Professor Idachaba who expressed dismay at the way some journalists escalated crisis situations through reportage of fabricated stories and fake news in the past, advised against hurrying to the press without fact checking such information.
” Be mindful of the safety of the people and their sensibility. Your goal is to bring authentic information. Look at humanity. Sometimes we get carried and play down on professional ethics”.
The General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, National Theater, Iganmu Lagos, Professor Sunny Ododo reiterated the need for journalists to avoid arm chair reporting or reporting based on assumptions, rather they should carry out properly investigation, giving equal and objective coverage to all parties highlighted in the story.
Professor Ododo outlined some of the reasons the broadcast industry in the country should be regulated to include, curtailing incidents of fake news and preventing escalation of insecurity in the country.
The Deputy Director, News and Current Affairs, Radio Nigeria Lagos Operations, Mr. Fred Shaka-Braimah who was a participant believe that the summit and its theme were apt, and urged fellow participants to make good use of the knowledge gained for the good of the country.
“The programme is a nice one. It is all about conflict reporting.
“As journalists who are members of the society where there is bound to be conflict, it is our responsibility to report conflict in such a way that we don’t escalate it.
“It is part of our in-house policy in Radio Nigeria not to support anything that will cause disaffection in the society. We try as much as possible not to promote conflict, rather we do everything possible to report it in such a way that it will not affect the society.
“I just hope that participants will abide by what we have been thought by ensuring that as journalists, we report conflict in such a way that we will be guided by our professional ethics”.
Some speakers submitted that while it was necessary for journalists to be mature and professional in their duties, government at all levels should rise to the occasion of making the environment more conducive for media practitioners.
High point of the summit was the presentation and adoption of a communique from the event.