By Gloria Ibesi and Ogoo Nwaokafor
The president of Association of Digital Media Core Advocates (ADMCA), Dr. Chuma-Odili Harris, has urged media practitioners to desist from propagating fake news which incites political violence and intolerance in society.
In a media summit held on February 16, 2023, which was geared towards sensitizing media practitioners in Anambra State on ”The Role of Media in Countering Electoral Violence and Fake News” ahead of the 2023 general elections, the convener, Dr. Harris, described the summit as timely, noting that it was part of the group’s aims to help remind Journalists of their duties during the elections and how to carry them out properly.
He emphasized the need for reporters to be cautious of hate speech and know how to diminish them from their reports.
His words, ‘In the course of our deliberation today, so many insights will manifest. By the end of this summit, media practitioners here present would be armed enough to discern what hate speech means. They would know the coloration of hate speech and how to lessen it in their reports and posts on both conventional and non-conventional media space.’
He further stated that Journalists should be able to distinguish fake news from true stories, adding that as professionals, they should know how to employ investigative journalism while writing their reports, making them devoid of hate speeches, propaganda and sensationalism, as those, according to him, instilled fear in the citizenry, causing tension and conflict in the country.
Speaking in the programme, a newspaper reporter, Mr Ifeanyi Uba, described fake news as unverifiable information. He noted that Journalists had a great role to play in curtailing the amount of fake news being disseminated.
He urged Journalists to endeavor to verify their news, get information from security personnel, where necessary, and obtain balanced reports before airing. He said it would aid the mitigation of fake news.
Mr. Frank Ebuka from Ogene FM, encouraged media practitioners to be critical thinkers and embrace the ethics of journalism to be able to conduct proper judgements while gathering their contents.
According to him, Journalists should distinguish themselves from regular bloggers and social media influencers, who, he said, went as far as manipulating pictures and videos in order to create catchy contents that would increase their popularity and views on social media.
He advised them to rather look beyond headlines, verify information, using some platforms such as, ICIR, Claim buster, CDD, among others, before publishing. This was even as he further added that Journalists should beware of sensational headlines and manage news in such a way that it would not be harmful to society.