The International Press Centre (IPC) on Tuesday, conducted a one-day capacity-building workshop for bloggers and online journalists on conflict-sensitive reporting.
This virtual training is in the build-up to the 2023 elections.
Participants were trained on conflict sensitive reporting skills and methodologies in covering campaigns and elections, hate speech election in reporting, the Nigerian media code on election coverage, safety of Journalists and 2023 elections and the imperatives of professional reporting online.
In his opening remarks, the Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Rotimi Oyekanmi, indicated how fake news have affected the operations of the commission.
He appealed to the media practitioners to remove religious and ethnic impressions from their stories because “it puts INEC in a difficult situation”.
One of the trainers, Ruqayyah Aliyu, a communication lecturer at Bayero University, Kano noted that the media’s role in entrenching democracy has made it an integral part to reduce to the nearest minimum violence usually seen during elections.
“Responsible journalism should be in place so that our conflict does not emanate to something very big and destructive which will have negative effect on the nation’s development”, she said.
Mrs Aliyu advised the media to be highly ethical on what they report or not because they are tje gatekeepers and this she said can be done by detaching one self from the story and report the facts.
She also appealed to the media to stop accepting monetary inducements from politicians as it influences their reports.
“The content should be peace-oriented. The report should propagate peace. Avoid name calling of political parties in an incitingful manner so as not to trigger conflicts”, she added.
Another trainer, Yunusa Yau who taught on hate speech in election report said hate speech can manifest in form of “incitingful comments against religion, ethnic group or linguistic affiliations or the intimidation of women and girls and persons living with disability”.
He listed five parameters to identify hate speech which include a powerful speaker with a great influence on the audience, an audience with greviances, a call to action urging the audience to accept, condone or commit violence, a social or history context to the violence and a credible channel of information to disseminate the hate speech.
The Executive Director of IPC, Lanre Arogundade, charged journalists and online bloggers to imbibe the Nigerian media code of election coverage.
In doing this, he told the participants to ask politicians to provide evidence to accusations made during campaigns or choose not to report the story.
He also suggested that the media ask political candidates to sign an anti-hate speech memorandum before interviewing them.
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To provide equitable access for candidates, Mr Arogundade also advised media practitioners to “devote a space for political candidates to talk about their parties’ programmes on different issues”.
On journalists’ safety during elections, he told them to envisage threats and prepare, manage information in their possession through data security tools and protect your mobile phones, have emergency contacts like editors and security officials and avoid being alone.
The virtual workshop was held as part of activities under Component 4 (Support to media) of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EUSDGN II) project, of which IPC is the lead partner.
The aim of the training is to strengthen the media for fair, accurate, ethical and inclusive reporting of the electoral processes and elections and in particular, to mitigate perceived and anticipated issues of spread of hate speech Online and other forms of non-conflict sensitive reporting.
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