The President/Vice-Chancellor of Babcock University (BU), Ilishan-Remo, Ademola Tayo, has urged global media practitioners and particularly in Nigeria to save the profession from being “drowned by the cacophony of disinformation.”
Mr Tayo, a Professor of Development Education, who spoke recently during a dinner with the members of the Education Writers’ Association of Nigeria (EWAN), a body of journalists who report on issues of education across print, online and broadcast media platforms in the country,” said the democratisation of the media space through technology has come with its good and bad.
The vice-chancellor, who described journalism as a noble profession, said responsible journalists must come together to fight fake news, misinformation and disinformation.
He said: “Journalism is no longer the monopoly of any individual or institution. The choice, preferences and needs of the public are increasingly shaping journalism. The public is not any more a passive recipient of information. In the 21° Century journalism, the public is now a community that plays an important role.
“Nigeria is faced with a number of socio-political and cultural challenges that are exacerbated by fake and inaccurate information, as well as a weak economy. Unfortunately, efforts to promote factual and accurate information necessary for development are hardly achieving the desired results.
“Media practitioners have to be very careful and take seriously the issue of disinformation or fake news, or projecting any information picked from online sources as credible without verification. Otherwise, responsible journalism faces the risk of being drowned out by the cacophony of disinformation.”
The scholar added that the current realities have shown that journalists risk being manipulated by those he described as “actors who go beyond the ethics of public relations and accountability by attempting to mislead or corrupt journalists into spreading disinformation by applying the concept of an anonymous source in news reporting.”
“I am worried, and I know that you are worried too, that disinformation could cause misjudgments, unrest, and wrong choices by citizens, particularly when they do not have the media literacy skills to evaluate the content. This could have dire consequences on the nation’s production and consumption levels,” he added.
Mr Tayo said for journalists to perform their constitutional duties dutifully and effectively, they “must continually equip themselves with current knowledge and skills needed to conduct accurate election reporting, and be very well aware of their duty to reduce hate speech and incitement to violence that often arise in an election environment.”
EWAN chair reacts
In his reaction, the EWAN chairman, Mojeed Alabi, said the association is determined to empower its members with required skills to engage in responsible journalism.
Mr Mojeed, who also used the avenue to advocate patriotism among journalists, said Nigeria needs ethical journalism to keep corrupt politicians and public officeholders on their toes.
He said: “Journalists are very important to the survival of democracy, and without press freedom and ethical journalism the nation may be doomed.”
Meanwhile, the vice-chancellor said the university with one of the best medical facilities in the country, is also making waves across other fields.
He said five of the institution’s fresh graduates who finished from its School of Law and Security Studies with second class upper division, recently graduated from the Nigerian Law School with First Class.
Mr Tayo said the feat by the students has debunked the rumour that private universities in Nigeria only “hand out their students results.”
He said six of the institution’s students who took part in the bar examination graduated with first class honours while only one of them made first class while in the university.
The feat, he noted, qualified BU to be ranked fourth best university in terms of pass percentage in the examination, adding that the number represents a total of six per cent “and is the highest amongst private universities in Nigeria.”
The VC said during the year the university also recorded its first successful bilateral total knee replacement surgery on a 65-year old female patient who had severe knee osteoarthritis in both legs.
“Today, with over 959 open heart surgeries at the Cardiac Centre in the Babcock University Teaching Hospital (BUTH), as well as several total knee replacement and spinal surgeries, we continue to stem the trend of medical tourism and creating tangible options for Nigeria and all living in the sub-Saharan African region,” he said.
He said the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), has upwardly reviewed the university’s student enrolment capacity in Medicine from 100 to 120, and that the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) has also approved an upgrade for the Nursing Science student enrolment to 150.
He said: “Currently, we have 44 accredited undergraduate programmes ranging from Accounting to Nursing and Medicine & Surgery. Of this figure, six are from the two new Schools of Environmental and Earth Sciences, and Engineering.
“Recently, we got a great exit report from the National Universities Commission for our 19 programmes presented for accreditation. Besides the NUC, we have received full accreditation from the Adventist Accrediting Association, (AAA), of Seventh-day Adventist Schools, Colleges, and Universities. This is the denominational accrediting authority for all tertiary and graduate educational programs and institutions owned by Seventh-day Adventist Church,” he said.
As part of efforts to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 which advocates affordable and clean energy, the VC said his institution is set to replace butane with methane through an ongoing biogas project.
“The second phase, to connect the pipes from the sewage to the bio-digester, is at an advanced level. The effluence from the breakdown of the bio-digester will be used as fertilizer while the gas will be used for cooking,” he said.
He noted that the project will be one of the biggest energy savers and wealth creation strategies for the university.
On collaborations, he said the university has existing collaborations with some institutions including the Savannah State University, Georgia, Atlanta, USA, noting that BU’s 300-level students of Social Work department can decide to take their second semester in the US.
“The same collaboration exists between Babcock and the University of Hertfordshire with the trip funded by the Erasmus Pius grant. There is also another collaboration with the Department of Social Works understanding with the GRO community, Chicago that provides Social Work graduate remote jobs in the USA; KOBI University, USA, offers training and research for faculty and students,” he said.
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