The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has urged all JOURNALISTS & Nigerian media organisations to avoid the “breaking news” syndrome in their reporting as the 2023 general election approaches.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the commission’s National Chairman, made the call in Bauchi on Thursday during a one-day capacity building programme for journalists on conflict-sensitive reporting and the 2023 general election ,he called on them to avoid headlines that are sensational because people sometimes look at the headlines and draw conclusions without reading the rest of the report
“The media must avoid deliberate deception.” “They must also avoid skewing stories in favour of religious, zonal, or ethnic narratives,” he added.
Mr Yakubu assured that INEC would continue to collaborate with the media not only as key stakeholders in the electoral process, but also as a powerful tool in combating misinformation, fake news, and malicious falsehood in society.
Also speaking, the National President of the NUJ, Chris Isiguzo, who was represented by the union’s National Secretary, Shuaibu Liman, stated that if a Third World War broke out, it would begin on social media.
He went on to say that journalists, as media professionals, must be ethical.
Be wary of rashly jumping on the bandwagon of emergency journalism, which thrives on canvassing support for political parties’ sentiments via social media.
“Journalists must avoid hate journalism and fake news because these evils have the potential to destroy a society.”
“The advent of multimedia technology has changed the pattern and flow of communication around the world, and because journalism is in the business and practice of communication, it has had a huge impact on people.”
“Social media platforms have created new challenges and opportunities for journalists, which we encourage journalists and media organisations to fully embrace.”
“Journalists must take advantage of the opportunities provided by social media platforms to provide credible information and reduce the prevalence of hate speech and violence.”The Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, and INEC organised the programme for journalists in the country’s North Eastern region.Mr Yakubu, represented by Nasir Mohammed, stated that the ‘breaking news’ syndrome could lead to the dissemination of unverified or improperly processed information to the general public.
“The media must be cautious when making headlines and detect False news, This will help enormously in reducing political tensions,” he said.
The NUJ president also warned journalists and media organisations about the “breaking news” syndrome, calling it a “disease” in the journalism profession.
“Because we want to be first with breaking news,” he says, “we copy and paste any garbage from social media, and that is the danger.”
“As professionals in the media, we must learn to tell the other side of the story.” If we are unsure about breaking news, we should leave it out.
“Or we reconsider it so that we can provide a credible source of information for those who listen, read, and watch us,” he said.