Only Investigative Journalism can checkmate Fake News – NPC, Professionals

By: Leke Adegbite

55 participants comprising journalists from the six South West states of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo and seasoned Resource persons drawn from the academia at a workshop in Ibadan have warned that fake news is capable of killing media industry if not mitigated by key stakeholders.

This is one of the highlights of the Two-day Workshop On Fake News: “CATALYST FOR NATIONAL DISUNITY” organised by the Nigerian Press Council with the support of Lamfortte Resource Limited held at The International Conference Centre, University Of Ibadan.

The participants in the Communique said, “Fake news is not only a threat to the peace and security of a nation but also a threat to the existence of the media. Media organizations should put a check on professional misconduct of publishing hate adverts and wraparound because of financial benefits”.

The Communiqué reads, “As professionals, Journalists should aspire to sustain the principle of ethical reporting; Investigative journalism also called “journalism of outrage” is highly encouraged because of its several advantages”.

“Journalists should observe the universally accepted principle of confidentiality and should not disclose the source of information obtained in confidence, except where it affects national interest”.

“Journalists should not be partisan in their reportage or coverage of news; Enactment of a legislation to criminalize fake news as well as explore ways of ensuring the safety of investigative journalists”

“Need to convene a stakeholder summit on the Nigerian Press Council law for effective regulation; Domestication of a template inculcating what obtains in other successful press councils in other climes”.

The participants said, “Nigerian Press Council should extend this kind of capacity building programme to media executives; Need for the Nigerian Press Council to constitute a panel for a full study on the impact of fake news on the 2019 general election”.

Below is the full text of the Communiqué:

COMMUNIQUE ON THE TWO-DAY WORKSHOP ON FAKE NEWS; CATALYST FOR NATIONAL DISUNITY ORGANISED BY THE NIGERIAN PRESS COUNCIL WITH THE SUPPORT OF LAMFORTTE RESOURCE LIMITED HELD AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN, FROM THURSDAY, MARCH 28 TO FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2019.

The Nigerian Press Council, in pursuance of its mandate to enhance the professional standard of the Nigerian press and as part of its contribution to the on-going campaign against fake news in the media organized a two day workshop on the theme Fake News: Catalyst for National Disunity.

The workshop, facilitated by Lamfortte Resource Limited was held at the International Conference Centre, Ibadan, Oyo State from Thursday, March 28 to Friday, March 29, with sub themes embracing Fake News versus Editorial Integrity; Combatting Ethical and Investigative Journalism; Impact of Fake News on 2019 General Elections and Fake News and its consequences on National Unity.

In his keynote address while declaring the workshop open, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council, Mr. Adewumi Faniran, stated that the adverse effect of fake news which could heat up the polity if not properly tackled. He was represented by Mr. Sola Oladapo, the Vice Chairman of the NUJ, Oyo State Council.

The Ag Executive Secretary, Nigerian Press Council, Mr. Victor Egharevba, had earlier in his opening remarks set the tone for the workshop by underscoring the fact that fake news phenomenon is capable of threatening the fabric of the country’s democracy.

Observations

Participants at the workshop observed as follow:

The evolution of fake news did not start today but that technology exacerbated it.

Fake news has the capacity to make readers and viewers lose trust in and undermine the media.

Fake news can generate other consequences such as hate speech.

Fake news can mitigate civil discourse through the formation of “echo chamber effects”.

Fake news is not only a threat to the peace and security of a nation but also a threat to the existence of the media.

There are factors militating against effective regulation by the Nigerian Press Council.

Recommendations

From the observations and other deliberations, the following recommendations were made:

Media organizations should put a check on professional misconduct of publishing hate adverts and wraparound because of financial benefits;

As professionals, Journalists should aspire to sustain the principle of ethical reporting;

Investigative journalism also called “journalism of outrage” is highly encouraged because of its several advantages;

Journalists should observe the universally accepted principle of confidentiality and should not disclose the source of information obtained in confidence, except where it affects national interest;

Journalists should not be partisan in their reportage or coverage of news;

Enactment of a legislation to criminalize fake news as well as explore ways of ensuring the safety of investigative journalists;

Need to convene a stakeholder summit on the Nigerian Press Council law for effective regulation;

Domestication of a template inculcating what obtains in other successful press councils in other climes;

Nigerian Press Council should extend this kind of capacity building programme to media executives;

Need for the Nigerian Press Council to constitute a panel for a full study on the impact of fake news on the 2019 general election; and

Need to mitigate fake news by investing in media literacy, among others.

55 participants comprising journalists from the six South West states of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo and seasoned Resource persons drawn from the academia attended the workshop. Participants commended the Nigerian Press Council for organizing the workshop.

Mr. Adewumi Faniran
Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Oyo State Council.

Mr. Victor Egharevba
Ag. Executive Secretary,
Nigerian Press Council

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