Former Governor of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba, on Friday said online publications have come to stay globally, just as he called on the publishers to be mindful of the progress of the country in their reportage.
Mr Osoba was speaking as the chairman at the second annual conference of Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) at Sheraton Hotels, Lagos.
He said the theme of the conference,’Online Publishers Role Towards A Sustainanble Economy, Credible Election and Security in Nigeria’, was timely in view of preparations for the 2019 general elections.
Mr Osoba, who is a former journalist, said with online journalism, what was seen as the future has become the present, noting that at the touch of a laptop or tablet keyboard, information now travels across geographical space and time zones.
“What was deemed impossible has become real. The world is only a click away. Since your parley touches on the media, the economy and security, you have chosen a topical subject that deserves serious consideration at a very important period in our national life,” he stated.
The former governor said he was delighted that the association, a new development in the media, is waxing stronger as an important player in the industry, adding however, that the development is “both exhilarating and bewildering.
“It is positive as it opens the world to greater exploration. It could also be negative as the ease and race to share information is open to great abuse if met with lack of sufficient care and diligence. It is this abuse manifested in the shape of fake news, unverified information and the inclination for mischief and blackmail by some bloggers that threatens the integrity of the online medium.
“It is a global concern that you need to continuously look into. How can we reduce the proclivity for this errant behaviour? How much training and retraining can you put together for your members and other online practitioners to ensure we do not allow the menace to grow?”
Mr Osoba said he was aware that the association is made up of responsible journalists, “but all it takes for your reputation to be sullied is a handful of the deviant people, who have other objectives for their presence in the public sphere.”
He said he would be looking forward to the outcome of the deliberations, noting that when the subjects of discourse touch the economy, credible elections and security of the country, there is no doubt that there is a lot to chew upon.
“Precipitate publications on the economy without appropriate contextual analysis are not the forte of responsible journalism. Naked partisanship that downplays the views and positions of some candidates so as to promote our biases is not the way to build credibility for our news organisations or the electoral process’.
Mr Osoba stressed that the “media have a major role to play as impartial arbiters who should present the issues, the candidates and their positions on these issues in a way that helps the public to make sense out of the contending views.
“It is good to get the news first but it is certainly better to get it right. Your association should drum this point into the hearing of your members for if there is a medium that has the greatest potential to stoke conflict through precipitate and unverified information, it is the online media’
“In a country with still a large population of the uneducated, we must be careful not to unwittingly stoke violent conflicts, stunt economic development and imperil the future of our people.”