IPC Trains Online Journalists On Campaign, Election Reporting

By Kemi Yesufu

Chairman of International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos, Lanre Arogundade has urged journalists to maintain a high level of alertness during election coverage.

Speaking during the recently held virtual one-day skill-enhancing and capacity-building workshop for bloggers/online journalists on conflict-sensitive reporting ahead of the 2023 elections, organized by IPC, he also advised that journalists to prioritise personal safety while covering campaigns and elections.

Arogundade reminded participants of the media code for election coverage, which he said was to guide all media professionals in reporting the election. He advised that ethical standards should not be compromised over pecuniary gains.

The veteran journalists stressed the importance of safety to journalists, adding that during election coverage, reporters must envisage threats and react accordingly.

He said: “Have safety consciousness; we must manage information at our disposal; have contacts you can easily reach in case of exposure to danger; don’t be a loner in covering election/campaign, be in company of others.”

Arogundade further advised reporters to “have knowledge of where you are going; check your health status before going to monitor; and keep distance from mob action.”

A resource person, Dr Rukayat Aliu, from the Department of Journalism and Mediam Services, Bayero University, Kano lectured participants on conflict-sensitive reporting skill and methodology in campaigns and elections.

Aliu highlighted the role of the media during campaigns and election, harping on the need for media professionals to “stand up to do what they have to do to sustain democracy.”

She tasked the media to take responsibility to reduce tension and conflict during electioneering process, adding that the media is a great influencer of the people.

She advised the media to report truth, detach self from the event, and be balanced and fair to all parties, this is as she called on journalists not to sacrifice detailed reporting in the race to first break the story.

On his part, Dr Yunusa Ya’u of Centre for Information Technology and Development, (CITAD), Nigeria, spoke on hate speech and its impact on the country.

Dr Ya’u observed that online publishers have been wrongly accused as the purveyor of hate speech, disclosing that from research, hate speech was not restricted to bloggers and online journalists, according to him, the mainstream media are guiltier, saying most online media copy from the mainstream media.

He listed other means of promoting hate speech to include verbal and non-verbal means, adding that the media must act responsibly by carefully selecting what to publish.

He opined that not everything a politician says is newsworthy.

Maureen Chigbo, the publisher of Realnews and the president of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP), shared nuggets on the “don’ts” in order not to trigger conflict, advised reporters to carefully pick words to descalate tension.

She urged journalists to focus more on good leadership rather on ethnicity and religion differences which are divisive in nature.

Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Rotimi Oyekanmi said the commission has remained impartial will only serve the nation, not individuals or any political party.

Pleading with media professionals, Oyekanmi said, media had a major role to play in the success or otherwise of electoral process in the country.

Ambrose Sodime of DAAR Communications was the moderator of the session.

The virtual workshop which is part of activities under Component 4 (Support to media) of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EUSDGN II) project, of which IPC is the lead partner, had more than 40 online journalists from the northern part of the country, including Abuja, in attendance.

The main objective was to strengthen the media for fair, accurate, ethical and inclusive reporting of the electoral processes and elections and in particular, to mitigate perceived and anticipated issues of spread of hate speech online and other forms of non-conflict sensitive reporting.


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