As part of the Nigerian Press Council’s desire to enhance the moral tone and professional excellence of the Nigerian Press and its on-going efforts to train journalists in the best practices for election reporting, a two-day workshop on Effective Coverage and Reportage of 2015 General Elections was held at the Royal Marble Hotel, Benin-City, Edo State, from Monday, January 19 to Tuesday, January 20, 2015. The workshop was supported by the Democratic Governance for Development (DGD) Project II of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The objectives of the workshop were to sensitize journalists on ethical principles guiding election reporting and coverage; strengthen the capacity of journalists to monitor elections and report them effectively; and ensure adherence to professionalism as a deliberate means of entrenching democracy and good governance in Nigeria.
The Honourable Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Edo State, Hon. LoiusOdion represented by the Director of Publications in the Ministry, Mr. Lucky Wasa, who declared the workshop opensaid that the workshop was very apt considering the current political/democratic dispensation in the country.
The workshop had in attendance 65 participants consisting of journalists drawn from both print and broadcast media organisations in the South-South states of AkwaIbom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers.
In line with its objectives, the workshop featured presentations, practical discussions and interactive sessions on the germane issues of 2015 elections coverage and reportage. Presentations and discussions centred on theObjective Reporting, Panacea for Free and Fair Election; 2015 Elections: Expectation of the Media in Voters’ Education; and the Role of the Media in Electoral Process
After thorough deliberations, participants observed that:
- There are hindrances to objective journalism practice.
- The political scene is characterized by various prejudices and negative attitudes that are critically unhealthy to the peaceful and positive conduct of elections. These include public apathy, violence, inducement (money politics) and non-issue based perception of politics, etc.
- Journalists are arbitrarily harassed, humiliated, arrested and killed while covering political activities.
- There is inadequate access to relevant information and undue ownership influence.
- There are issues of job insecurity, self censorship and intolerance
The workshop recommends as follows:
a) That media professionals should ensure factual,accurate and objective reporting at all times and avoid conflict of interest.
b) That there is need for enhanced voter education to reduce apathy and promote constructive voter engagement in the electoral process.
c) That the media should ensure fairness to all electoral stakeholders as a fundamental principle.
d) Media owners should avoid undue influence and unnecessary interference especially in line with the journalists’ professional code of ethics.Journalists’ professional bodies should engage with media owners on compliance.
e) That journalists and media organisations should avoid self censorship and accord open door policy to all existing political parties.
f) Media platforms should work together for the protection and defence of the rights of media professionals in the discharge of their lawful duties.
g) Security agencies should be reminded that journalists are critical stakeholders in the electoral process and therefore need to be protected as partners in progress
h) The media, through presentations of facts, carry out agenda setting functions and should uphold the principle of social responsibility.
i) That the issue of job security, welfare and proper remuneration of journalists should be given urgent and serious attention for purpose of enhancing value approach and effective performance.
j) That media owners should provide adequate logistics for journalists covering the 2015 elections to enhance their movements, guarantee impartial reporting and ensure proper coverage of political events.
Participants commended the NPC and development agencies such as the UNDP for their roles in the training of journalists as stakeholders in the electoral processes in Nigeria and called for similar gestures from other development partners.
———————————- ——————————— Mr. George Izobo Desmond Agbam
Chairman of the Workshop Chairman, NUJ Edo State Council
For Executive Secretary,
Nigerian Press Council