Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi has called on media organisations and practitioners to tackle the menace of fake news capable of destabilising the country.
Bello made the call at the 29th edition of the Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA) night in Lokoja.
The News Agency Nigeria (NAN) reports that a four-day event has recorded a huge success as Kogi standing tall as the host.
The governor said that sanitising the media industry and keeping it professional was a job the media practitioners must do for themselves.
He added that government could not help to avoid being caught in the web of censorship.
The governor stressed that every attempt to regulate fake news or hate speech by government had always been misinterpreted among media organisations with accusations of gagging free speech.
According to him, time has come for media practitioners to face the challenge like other professional bodies to sanitise the noble profession as watchdog of the society.
“The bravest and most professional individuals among you need to set examples in standing up to these giant forces for the more timid ones.
“They can do that by remaining resolutely true to what is ethical, actual or factual, no matter whose ox is gored.
”The profession needs to institutionalise reward and punishment systems for professional misconduct in the line of duty,” Bello said.
He urged media organisations to go extra mile and come up with innovative methods to help stem the tide of unprofessional behaviour in the media industry.
He added: “I would suggest that you become creative in naming and shaming those who deal in inaccurate reportage.
”For instance, you could institute another set of award like they have in some countries like the USA to name and shame individuals and media houses who carry the most egregious fake news or hate every year.”
The governor, who congratulated all the awardees, described them as the shining lights of the 4th Estate of the Realm.
He charged them to maintain the high levels of professional conduct and performance going forward.
Earlier, the NMMA Chairman, Board of Trustee, Dr Haroun Adamu, commended the governor for hosting the 29th edition of the NMMA.
He noted that a total of 1050 entries were received for 50 categories of awards and commended the NMMA project administration team for doing a good job.
NAN reports that Channels TV and Raypower won the NBC Prize for Television and Radio stations of the year respectively, while The Punch won the Babatunde Ajose prize for Newspaper of the year.
Mr Adeniyi Adesina of The Nation Newspaper won the Dele Giwa prize for Editor of the year, while the Nigerian Tribune emerged winner as the Editorial writing of the year.
Adejoke Fayemi and Sarah Osanyinlusi, both of Ray Power won Radio Reporter and Presenter of the year respectively, while Sunday Onyeyirichi of 93.3 Nigeria Info, clinched Radio Broadcaster of the year.
Akande Emmanuel of TVC, Ngozi Alaegbu of Arise TV, and Gimba Umar of Channels TV, emerged winners of TV Reporter, Newscaster and Programme Presenter, respectively.
NAN also reports that Rt. Rev. George Bako, the former Director General of Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation and pioneer Director-General of FRCN, and three others received Award of Professional Excellence in service.
Gov. Yahaya Bello, also received a Special Recognition award as the Chief Host.(NAN)