World Press Freedom Day 2022: Panel recommends training session for political office holders on the role of journalists in democracy

PETER OKORE, Umuahia

Ahead of the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, a panel of participants in Umuahia, Abia State, advocated for the education of the political class, especially candidates for elected office, on the role of journalists in realization of the social contract during elections. .

The measure will contribute to creating a better understanding between the functions of a real journalist, the policies and the expectations of the general public.

At the one-day summit organized by the Abia State branch of the Union of Nigerian Journalists, NUJ, to mark the day, the panel felt that most politicians are unaware of the real role of the media, adding that this misconception was responsible as why most politicians see journalists/media as enemies or people who come to reveal their secrets; whereas the journalist is the one who aims to bring the facts to the public as exactly as they are or happened.

Speaking on the theme: “Journalism beleaguered by the digital”, the panel advised government officials, institutions and businesses to avoid situations where practicing journalists could be beleaguered and gagged in the exercise of their legal duties or government information managers adopting a system of “dichotomy” in the use of journalists to cover Government House activities

In a keynote paper to mark New Year’s Day, Don Academic, Associate Professor Uwaoma Uche called for streamlining the accountability of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Nigeria Communications (NCC) and of the Press Council of Nigeria (NPC) to include regulation of digital and internet-based media to ensure common sense in the practice of journalism.

Uwaoma, who is head of mass communication at Gregory University in Uturu, said most content creators on the internet and digital media are not trained journalists and may not understand the demands of accountability. social, which is one of the main reasons for putting the practice of journalism under scrutiny. .

According to him, the freedom of the press, although fundamental like the other freedoms, is not absolute. He underscored the need for the Union of Nigerian Journalists (NUJ) and other stakeholders to institute a framework to assess the performance of various governments in Nigeria on the Freedom of Information Act. He urged journalists to adopt proper training in digital journalism so that they can reduce, if not eliminate, the activities of candidates posing as emergency journalists on the social media space.

He warned mainstream journalists to purge themselves of uncertified operators who pose as citizens and online journalists without the required training in journalistic ethics and social responsibility and noted that cultural and religious differences should not not be used as a tool to limit freedom of the press.

In his contribution, a veteran journalist and former Secretary to the Government of Abia State, Chief Ralph Egbu warned practicing journalists in Abia State against setting fire to the state by clan and sentimental reporting in the face of increased political activity.

Chief Egbu challenged journalists to refuse situations where they could be used to cause unrest in the state, but to be at the forefront of promoting peace, tranquility and good governance, as well as engaging with law-making through balanced reporting that would set an agenda for politicians and the public.

The veteran, who is also a former commissioner for information, culture and tourism in Abia state, said the fight between press freedom and the so-called siege would still be there, but said maintained that the work of conscientious journalists would always speak for them.

He urged journalists to abandon laziness and take their place of choice while encouraging them to strive to own media spaces that are both digital and conventional, stressing that such an attempt would inspire the true practitioner to dominate the media space with verifiable reporting.

Chief Egbu and other summit contributors praised the Abia NUJ for organizing the World Press Freedom Day celebrations. They, however, called for more online training for journalists to enable them to carry out their duties in accordance with the ethics of the profession, to protect their sources and to compete favorably in the world’s information dissemination processes. contemporary.

Earlier, the president of the occasion, Professor Anthony Agbazuere, called on the national body of the NUJ to develop social protection programs for its members.

He said the Abia State government will not discriminate against journalists assigned to Abia State to cover events at the government headquarters and across Abia State.

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