The first ever Nigerian bloggers, online media summit was held at the International Press Centre, IPC, Ogba, Lagos, on Thursday, June 29, 2017. The summit tagged “Conflict Prevention, Conflict Management and Peace Building”, brought together several online publishers, bloggers and reporters to interact and proffer ways of making the medium a powerful tool in conflict prevention, management and peace building reportage. Journalists for Democratic Rights, JODER, put the thought-provoking, inspiring event together in conjunction with Ford Foundation.
In his address, the Executive Director of JODER, Adewale Adeoye, said “The Social Media had come to stay. It is a whirlwind that no one will be able to stop. But it is also a movement that must consistently examine and re-examine her roles in the world of today “
He added: “However, the social media is not restricted to those who need it to make positive changes. It is a value-neutral organ that has been greatly explored by insidious movements across the world, including being employed as a propaganda tool and harbinger of mischief”.
Adeoye explained that he medium has several attributes which include greater outreach, instant information for the general public, a tool to sway public opinion, addresses the missing gap left by the mainstream media, amongst others.
He identified conflict template in Nigeria to include Boko Haram, herdsmen. Arms proliferation, violence, ethnic conflict, and other.
He noted that participants at the media summit must agree on whether they want the social media for the good or bad of the greater society. He spoke on the need for a consensus on truth and objectivity. Online publications, he said need to build a credible source and create on effective data base. And also admonished on the need to use the social media to enhance the power and voices of the people.
During interactive sessions at the event anchored by Yinka Oyegbile, Deputy Editor, The Nation Newspapers, participants shared their experiences and reportage in conflict situations making a effective use of the medium.
At the end of the media summit, JODER in a statement said online media and bloggers could make meaningful contributions to peace building and conflict prevention. “Nigeria has the potential to be a great country where the people will be free from poverty and needless violence. The social media and online publishers have a critical role to play in this historic task”, JODER said.
Online publishing, it said, has become a major tool in driving the Nigerian political economy. An average of over 60 Million users in Nigeria are partly dependent on the social media. There are “Risks to personal lives and consequent public disdain against the operators of the medium. Nigeria is increasingly becoming a violent country. Credible media are being singled out as targets. The difference is that a discredited medium is likely to face challenge of public empathy”, it said.
According to JODER, blogger and publishers should try as much as possible to promote public good. They have the responsibility to compete on a higher moral plane with the mainstream media and promote the greatest good of the greater number of people.
JODER urged participants to avoid sensationalism and unprofessional conducts “Social Media should not cast itself in the image of the maestros of unfounded stories. It should not be the culture of the citizenship Media to write just anything that comes its way. It means we must ensure professional gatekeeper s are employed to do the job using the best possible international standards”, the group said.
Participants also agreed on basic elements that could drive a meaningful social media that fuels democratic culture, provides voices for the poor vulnerable communities and creates the necessary environment for peaceful democratic culture.
Certificates were presented to each participant at the end of the online Media Summit.