NGO charges journalists on data usage

An NGO, Media Awareness and Justice Initiative (MAJI), on Wednesday, charged journalists on the use of data in reporting, especially on environmental issues.

Mr Ikechukwu Ahaka, the Programme Officer, MAJI, made the call while speaking at a capacity building workshop on using data participatory media tools for environmental reporting for Yenagoa-based journalists.

He said that under the Data Casting Biodiversity (DATACAB) project funded by the French Embassy, the NGO had recruited and trained volunteers.

According to him, the volunteers will serve as monitors to collect primary data from oil communities during pollution incidents.

He said that the data would be analysed and presented to media practitioners to make their stories comprehensive.

Ahaka said that modern trends and innovative analysis had made data an essential ingredient in telling and authenticating stories that concern the environment.

“Data has become the new oil and data has become so essential an ingredient in environmental reporting and we observed that the available data is not inserted in the reportage of Niger Delta environment.

“We put this session together to see how environment reports from the Niger Delta could be data-driven as data gives credibility and authenticity to stories because they are empirical,” Ahaka said.

He said that the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has a rich database on oil spill incidents in the country.

Ahaka said this could be very useful for journalists covering the environment beat and urged them to utilise the resources.

Mr Alfred Egbegi, the Publisher of Izon Link, noted that the Niger Delta region was replete with frequent pollutions and introducing the use of data would enhance the understanding of readers.

Similarly, Mrs Pauline Onyibe, Correspondent of New Telegraph Newspapers, outlined the challenges facing reporters in covering environmental stories to include hostile oil communities, insecurity and challenging terrain of the region.

In his contribution, Mr Mike Tayase, State Correspondent of Daily Asset Newspapers, called for caution and scrutiny of the data source.

He noted that groups with vested interests, including oil firms could manipulate data to suit their purpose, adding that bias in the data collection process would adversely affect the outcome. (NAN)