2019: Journalists urged to maintain neutrality in election reporting

By Shuaib Sadiq

#TrackNigeria: Stakeholders on Thursday in Kaduna  urged Media practitioners to maintain neutrality in reporting the 2019 general elections for peace and security of the country.This is contained in an 11-point Communique issued at the end of a one-day maiden quarterly lecture of Kaduna State Media Corporation (KSMC), held at the Arewa House, Kaduna.The topic of the lecture was, Media Practice, Ownership and Ethical Delimas in Electron Coverage.It was meant to sensitise practitioners on dangers of partisanship in elections coverage.The lecture coming barely two weeks to the  2019  Presidential and National Assembly polls, was delivered by Malam Mahmud Jega,  Deputy Editor-In-Chief, Media Trust limited, and chaired by Prof. Muhammad Tanko,  Vice Chancellor, Kaduna State University.In the Communique, the participants urged media practitioners to “at all cost be neutral and accountable in their election coverage and reportage.”The stakeholders tasked Media owners on the need to allow professionalism and ethical conduct to guide their operations.“The lecture noted with concern the proliferation of unethical practices among Journalists in general reporting and elections coverage in particular.“Practitioners must always be guided by the election regulations as contained in the  Electoral Act.“Participants urged the government and relevant agencies to open up the space to allow journalists access information freely.”They said issues of excessive secrecy of government officials, liberalization of media ownership, attitude of politicians had killed  professionalism in the sector.The stakeholders also identified  lack of good working knowledge, poor   training, state-of-the-art working tools as well as poor remuneration of media practitioners as factors affecting efficiency in service delivery.“Some media owners even prevent their reporters from covering events of opposition political parties and elections.”The stakeholders also urged journalists to  shun peddling hate speech and fake news, adding that “media men should as a matter of necessity interrogate claims and ensure accuracy from all news sources before going to press.”The communique said reporters  should understand that international election observers always pay attention to media that give equal opportunity to political parties and politicians holding different opinions.“That is one of  the key yardsticks for measuring the credibility of our electoral process.“For the media to carry out their responsibilities adequately, they must be knowledgeable about Nigeria’s political history with cognisance to the culture and values of the people.”They tasked relevant media regulatory agencies to  apply appropriate sanctions on erring media organisations and practitioners.“Better working condition and remuneration of media practitioners should be provided to address the institutionalization of brown envelop syndrome that affects election coverage.”They called on Media organisations to,  from time to time,  organise lectures and seminars  to further refresh and update the knowledge of reporters for effective coverage.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports  that officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, representatives of Security agencies as well as members of the academia attended the event. (NAN)

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