COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF A TWO-DAY WORKSHOP ON IMPACTFUL ELECTION REPORTING FOR JOURNALISTS BY THE NIGERIAN PRESS COUNCIL HELD AT THE SUNVIEW HOTEL, AKURE, ONDO STATE JUNE 17 TO 19, 2014.
The Nigerian Press Council in continuation of meeting its mandate to enhance professionalism in the media sponsored a two-day workshop on Election Reporting. The Workshop held at the Sunview Hotel, Akure from June 17 to 19, 2014 was organized by Diamond Publications Ltd.
The Workshop had as its theme Impactful Election Reporting and was attended by 28 journalists across print and broadcast media organisations.
The workshop agreed that:
- The media should continually monitor government if the government is to be made to serve the people as democracy is people-centred.
- To continue to uphold integrity and professionalism, the media should avoid publishing outrageous claims by vested interests without substantive evidence.
- In particular, the media should de-escalate tension in the polity by ensuring that they do not parrot libelous and spurious allegations against the opposition, but sift and verify every political comment to ensure its factuality before reporting it.
- The media should set the agenda for the political class by scientifically identifying issues of public interest to the electorate and seek to establish the different positions of those seeking public office on these issues so as to serve as true advocates of social development. Participants particularly frown at a situation whereby politicians now set agenda for the media instead of the other way round.
- Journalists should ask relevant and probing questions from politicians and compare their electoral promises with their performances in office to justify if they should be returned to office or not
- In fulfillment of their role as educators, Journalists should study and understand the electoral law, and explain it into to the generality of the people.
- The Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO) should come up with common guidelines that could serve as parameters for election reporting in the country in order to avoid the current situation in which media owners and controllers use their platforms for pecuniary interests at the expense of national and professional good.
- Reporters have great power and they must be encouraged to wield it in an ethical and professional manner, conscious that inaccurate election reportage can trigger avoidable violence that is injurious to the health of the nation.
- The media and journalists should gauge the mood of the electorate to ensure that the voices of the people are actually heard during elections through opinion polls, observations etc,
- Media professionals should serve as the lapdog of politicians by publishing imbalanced, unfair and unverified reports, jaundiced and superficial analysis.
- Political reporters and columnists should particularly be careful with their use of language and pursue decorum, decency and professionalism. Violent use of language in reporting political activities is not in the interest of political public order which is a prerequisite to peaceful conduct of elections.
- Public-owned broadcasting stations should conduct their activities with utmost professionalism and give equal access to the various candidates and parties in an election.
- Media owners and managers should exercise utmost restraint in their conducts and avoid using the media to pursue certain preconceived pecuniary political gains at the expense of national interest.
- Media professionals should be paid regularly and promptly and not subjected to undignified treatments that could encourage corruption.
- Journalists should not bend or twist the facts because in journalism truth is sacred.
Mr. Nnamdi Njemanze Mr. Lanre Idowu
Ag. Executive Sec, NPC CEO, Diamond Publications Ltd