Comfort Zone, Strengthening Arm Chair Reportage – Fides Director, Fr Anusi Warns
As the global community marked the 2021 World Communications Day, Communication practitioners, mostly of Anambra State extract, have stressed the need for value driven communication, a development that is believed will enhance the grassroots and firsthand reporting of issues in society, report, Mercy Hill, Alexander Johnson Adejoh, Precious Ukeje amd Adejumoke Alebiosu
This was contained in a resolution reached during Weekend Gist with Fides Media, a weekend online programme of Fides Media, the Social Communications Directorate of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, and a Facebook Live Panel Session hosted by Fides Media, Saturday, May 15, 2021, as part of activities set to mark the year’s celebration.
Fides reports that the Catholic Diocese of Awka, through its Social Communications Department, had series of events lined up in commemoration of the 55th World Communications Day, themed, ”Come and see”.
On Friday, May 14, there was Weekend Gist with Fides Media which was followed on Saturday, May 15, by a Facebook live panel session, and the celebration proper, Sunday, May 16, which was held virtually.
The Director of Fides Media, Rev. Fr Martin Añusi, in his contribution, warned that staying back at one’s comfort zone strengthened the increasing arm chair reporting by journalists, some of who, he said, stayed back in their offices waiting for press releases and feeds from social media platforms which they published without verification.
At the session were practitioners drawn from print and broadcast media, as well as the academia, including Mr David-Chyddy Eleke of This Day Newspaper; Mrs Adamma Onwuteaka of Kpakpando FM; Rev. Fr Añusi and Dr Henry Duru of Mass Communication Department, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, who presented the keynote paper.
Mass Communication students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University were also in attendance during the panel session.
Fr Ańusi and Eleke who were guests on Weekend Gist with Fides Media on Friday, May 15, submitted that citizen journalists had not taken away the job of professional journalists who went extra miles to verify the veracity of information and were not quick to publish every piece of information they came across.
‘In an event where a citizen photographs an incident and posts on social media, he or she returns to buy a newspaper the next day to see where their picture ended. They even want to know some other news behind what happened right before them,’ Eleke said, while pointing out that journalists still had a lot to do.
Fr Ańusi, for his part, said challenges were not meant to inhibit professionalism, but were rather pedestals for advancement in every profession.
His words: ‘When any profession faces a challenge, the idea is not for practitioners to rest on their oars; rather, it should reveal what the profession should be really.’
The duo cautioned against fake news and charged journalists to take the pains of verification before they publish.
Nelson Whyte, presenter at Odenigbo FM, who joined the conversation via a phone call, argued that opinion leaders and carriers of information at the grassroots joined in the dissemination of fake news.
He however enjoined the Anambra State House of Assembly to quicken a bill seeking measures against individuals who spread fake and unverified pieces of information, a development, he believed, would curtail the spread of fake information, especially in the social media space.
Dr Duru, in his presentation, which formed the basis for discussion on Saturday, May 15, noted that the message of the Pope called for reexamination of how people communicated to ensure that what was intended was duly communicated. The university don warned against false self-presentation, noting that it was rampant on social media.
Also speaking, Mrs Onwuteaka challenged journalists and other communication experts to be passionate about their jobs, and consider themselves instruments of transformation which should positively impact society.
All participants in the sessions agreed that if journalists imbibed personal values in the discharge of their duties, they would not have need to compromise in the face of monetary gratifications.
While Pope Francis in his message had outlined a number of critical sub-topics, students had time to make contributions and also ask questions to which answers were provided.