Fake News can disintegrate Nigeria if…. South-West Journalists, NPC warn

By: Ade Adeleke

Journalists from the six south western states and some media experts have converged on Ibadan, the Oyo State capital to tackle the menace of fake news that is now a major threat to national integration.

The two-day workshop organised by the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) and facilitated by Lamforte Resources Limited is aimed at sensitizing participants on the need to combat the menace of fake news in Nigeria media.

The theme of the workshop is: “Fake News: Catalyst for National Disunity”.

Addressing the participants held at the International Conference Centre, beside University Of Ibadan, the Acting Executive Secretary, Nigerian Press Council, Mr. Victor Egharveba, said the role of media in fostering an environment of good governance was adjudged as one that cannot be overemphasized in a democratic society, hence the need for media professionals to jointly fight fake news.

The NPC Boss said, “as the watchdog and interpreter of public issues and events, the media is expected to provide analytical and factual news and opinion to the people. The public relies on the media for credible information to facilitate mutual understanding and to enhance national unity and cohesion”.

He said, “unfortunately there have been trends of inaccuracy and misinformation due to false/fake news. As we are aware fake news undermines serious media coverage. This phenomenon is capable of threatening the foundations of the country’s democracy, fostering distrust in institutions, undermining individual’s right to truth and even help in increasing social polarization, among other negative impacts”.

Egharveba said “the subject of fake news, in recent times has dominated public discourse. It has become so sensitive that the Federal Government, having weighed the damage it could cause if not nipped in the bud, launched its campaign against it on July 11, last year”.

“The council in the discharge of its mandate to foster high professional standards in the Nigerian Press, and in aligning with the Federal Government’s posture of countering and discouraging fake news, is carrying out this seminar to interrogate how the Nigerian media would continue to play its role in fostering peace and national cohesion through enhanced professionalism and engaging in the best practices devoid of false or fake news”.

“Putting out news item whose veracity and integrity are not established no doubt can erode the trust and credibility of the media. It will be very sad if the public lose confidence in the integrity of the media, the only institution saddled with the constitutional role of monitoring governance accountable. Council feels great concern over what could be the effect of this unethical practice on the integrity of the media”.

“It is our desire therefore, that this brain thrust will, among others generate open discussion on the role of the media in nation building, analyze the dynamics of false or fake news, and engender stakeholders’ commitment (i.e. the media) to promote messages and reportage that seek to unite and build Nigerians on the basis of fair and unbiased reporting”, Egharveba opined

While declaring open the workshop, the Oyo state Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr Adewumi Faniran represented by his Vice chairman, Sola Oladapo said if not tackled by the stakeholders, fake news could lead to national disintegration .

Three papers were delivered at the first day of the workshop namely: “fake News versus editorial integrity” delivered by the Media Adviser to Osun state governor on Speech Writing, Mr Sola Imoru and “Combatting Fake News via Ethical and Investigative Journalism”, by Dr Babatunde Ojebuyi from the University of Ibadan.

The last paper of the day is on ” impact of fake news on 2019 general election” delivered by Dr Bisi Olawuyi also from University of Ibadan.

The second day of the workshop, there will be the fourth paper titled “fake news and its consequences on National Unity” to be presented the Acting Head of Mass Communication, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo state, Dr Gbenga Abimbola.

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