By Mercy Omoike
As Nigerians prepare for the 2023 general elections, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on Tuesday organised a two-day workshop in Lagos toward promoting objective political reportage.
In a speech at the workshop that had the theme “Broadcast Ecology and Politics in Nigeria”, Alhaji Balarabe Shehu, the Director General of NBC, emphasised the need for the media to handle reports before, during and after the elections “professionally and responsibly”.
He further tasked journalists to avoid the dissemination of fake news and hate speech as that was inimical to the polity.
“We are here because it is known to each and everyone of us that 2023 is fast approaching and the media has a very important role to play in the election and its coverage.
“The purpose of the workshop is to intimate and remind the media of what is already known to them as professionals.
“The media should be steadfast and careful in their reportage and should avoid hate speech and fake news.
“News managers must avoid the temptation to be the first to break the news when they are not very sure of its veracity,” he said.
According to Shehu, the nation cannot afford the crisis partisan journalism could lead to, hence the need to report only verified information.
He said that the commission was not only out to penalise erring media houses, but to liaise with them for the good of the country.
“The country at this time cannot afford to have any crisis and we have a role to play as broadcasters to make sure only the right thing is aired.
“There are penalties for defaulting broadcasters. For instance, you are not allowed to air election results except when announced by INEC.
“We should give fair airtime to all political parties and contestants irrespective of if they are the opposition or the ruling party.
“We do not want to just jump into penalising media houses, but we want to carry them along as regards what is good for the nation.
“We have been persuasive and have been working with almost all the media houses and we are not just out to punish media houses.
“What we want is to work with them and carry them along with our activities.
“If there are any problems, we liase with them and advise them before we take any action.
“Our responsibility is our responsibility; we are going to do it, and we are going to do it to the best of our ability.
“We are going to sit down again with owners of media houses and managers and see how best we can put our heads together and implement what we were set up to do.
“Our message to the media community is that we should put Nigeria first in whatever we do; we do not have any other nation aside Nigeria.
“We cannot afford to have any crisis in Nigeria; we must place national interest above any other consideration in our reportage,” he said
In his speech, Prof. Tony Iredia, the former Director General of Nigeria Television Authority, urged journalists to be fair to all and never allow their biases to reflect in their reportage.
He emphasised the need for the media to give adequate attention to all political parties so as to help the electorate to decide on who to vote for.
NAN reports that the first day of the event was well attended by top politicians, media managers, INEC officials, the academia and other stakeholders. (NAN)