Don cautions journalists against glamorizing violence, hate speech

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Prof Stella Okunna, a don at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka in Anambra has cautioned journalists against glamorizing violence and hate speech in their reportage.

Okunna gave the warning at a two day media workshop on `Best Practices and Professional Reporting of Electoral Practice’ organised by the International Press Center (IPC) in Enugu on Wednesday.

According to her, media system that glamorizes violence and hate speech totally lacks the capacity to enthrone the tenets of peace journalism.

“By giving so much attention to conflicts, the media are strategically positioned to play a role that can either escalate conflicts or promote peace as peace media systems.

“A peace media system can be described as one that successfully minimizes conflict (or outright violence) and is able to promote peaceful behaviours in society.

“It is a media system that has developed ideals, ethics, mores, value systems and institutions that minimize conflict or violence and promote peace within it and among the audience,’’ she said.

Okunna, who is also the Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences in the university, also noted that another way of escalating conflict in reporting the electoral process was through hate speech.

“Conversely, avoiding hate speech through conflict-sensitive reporting is a fundamental tenet of a peace media system,’’.

She however, urged the media to tread softly in framing personalities and issues during the forthcoming general elections in the interest of peace and development of the country.

In his paper, `Integrating socio-economic and human index development data into political reporting ahead 2019 elections’,  Mr Jide Ojo, Executive Director Oja Development Consult urged the media to focus on issue based campaigns.

Ojo said that the media should look into socio economic issues including health, education, unemployment, security that would define campaign for 2019 elections.

“As part of the agenda setting responsibilities of the media, it is imperative for you as political correspondents to ask the right questions from those who are contesting the next elections.

“INEC last week published the names of 79 presidential candidates; 1,856 senatorial candidates; and 4,496 House of Reps candidates, making a total of 6,510 candidates across 89 out of 91 registered political parties that fielded candidates.

“As journalists, you have to engage them on these socio economic issues,’’ he said.

Mrs Funke-Treasure Durodola of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) also charged journalists to pay attention to democratic accountability such as rule of law and human rights issues.

Durodola stressed the need to give attention to gender and grassroots reporting before, during and after the elections.

Earlier, the IPC Director, Mr Lanre Arogundade said the workshop was aimed at helping journalists to understand and imbibe the principles of fairness, diversity and objectivity in reporting the electoral process.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that no fewer than 40 journalists from the South East and South-South geopolitical zones attended the workshop. (NAN)

– Nov. 14, 2018 @ 16:59 GMT |

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