Dr Mansur Liman, Director- General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) has called on the Nigerian media to desist from spreading fake news and hate speech.
Liman, who stated this call on the sidelines of the 2018 FRCN Annual Lecture in Abuja on Thursday, said traditional media should go back to the principles of professional journalism.
The topic for the 2018 lecture is “Fake News, Hate Speech and the 2019 General Elections: The Role of the Nigerian Media.”
He said media organisation had the responsibility to check and cross check any news for accuracy and authenticity before publishing or airing.
”We cannot allow ourselves to be associated with fake news and hate speech because that is not what journalism was built on.
“It was built on properly informing people; giving them accurate, objective, unbiased and impartial news.
“That is why we think that as we approach the 2019 elections, we should ensure we are actually giving the audience relevant news that will help them make informed decisions.”
He said that there would be consequences for Nigeria’s political and cultural stability if hate speech and fake news were not checked through sensitisation of the citizens.
He, therefore, called on Nigerians to collectively join the crusade against hate speech and fake news.
“The media must ensure fake news does not creep into our news bullentin in order to maintain credibility especially in such a sensitive time as we approach the 2019 general elections
“We can only add our voice to ensure social media such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter are not used as conveyers of hate speech and fake news.”
Prof. Ayobami Ojebode, Head of Department, Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan, in a lecture, “Fake News, Hate Speech and the 2019 General Elections: The Role of the Nigerian Media”, said fighting hate speech and fake news in Nigeria has become a matter of survival.
“For the media to lead the fight against hate speech and fake news, it must first redeem itself; for the media, charity must begin at home.
“It is important for the traditional media professionals to realise that many Nigerians in search for authentic information turn to them.
“In the coming elections as they have done in the past, people will roam from website to website, blog to blog in search of sensations.
“After that, most people will turn to their radio, televisions and newspapers for the real news because they know anyone can post anything on social media.”
He said that as traditional media returned to the basics of journalism they should be immune to the onslaught of fake news and hate speech.
According to him, the basics of “if in doubt, leave, out” and “if in doubt, find out” should be more strictly observed in the coming elections.
Ojebode said only a redeemed media could save the nation from drowning in the turbulence of malicious information and hate mongering that was already gathering.
“Part of their redemption role in the coming elections is to act as a counter force to fake news and hate speech by having an item on their website menu titled fake news.
“Countering fake news should be news.”
He said there was a need for partnership across media organisations and platforms for truthful and hate free reporting in the coming elections.
He said the National Broadcasting Commission, NAN, Nigerian Press Council and other stakeholders should lead in the compilation of a national directory of hate words and expressions.
Ojebode said this should be updated regularly and made available to the public, adding that the U.I. and its expert lexicographers would offer their service to the project. With reports by NAN