How Journalists Can Encourage Informed Voting

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Participants at the workshop

Participants at a three-day workshop on “Impactful Election Reporting for Journalists” recommend that journalists should be encouraged to carry out in-depth profiling of candidates for any election to enable the voters make informed decisions on their choices

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Aug. 25, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

JOURNALISTS have a big task ahead to ensure the success of the 2015 general elections. They have been advised to carry out an in-depth profiling of all candidates participating in the forthcoming elections to help the voters make the right choices. The advice was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a two-day workshop on “Impactful Election Reporting for Journalists,” organised by the Nigerian Press Council, in conjunction with the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence, DAME, at Kakanfo Inn, Ibadan, Oyo State.

The task was the result of an exhaustive deliberation on three papers delivered at the workshop. One of the papers entitled “Anatomy of an Election: Did the Press Goof on Ekiti Governorship Elections?” was delivered by Bisi Olawunmi, a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communications, Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State, while another entitled “Beyond Osun: The Media and Election Reporting,” by Jimi Disu, an Air Personality at Classic FM 97.3. The third paper entitled “Visual Assault: How the Media Encourage Electoral Violence,” was presented by Tam Fiofori, a photographer and film maker.

Participants at the workshop all agreed that the media should carry out in-depth profiling of all candidates in an election. This, they stated, would enrich the electoral process and help the electorate to make informed decisions. Besides, the media should  carry out in-depth profiling of all candidates without writing off some of them from the outset. “Journalists should be skeptical of surveys conducted by vested interests and ensure that those used satisfy strict scientific parameters and where possible carry out their own independent surveys.”

Other recommendations were that “journalists should set their own agenda by not limiting themselves to coverage of staged events, but should rather raise critical issues that could engender constructive discussions and debates. They should also strive to maintain some level of integrity and professionalism in spite of media ownership influence factor.”

The workshop, attended by 30 journalists from the print and broadcast media organisations in the country, also resolved that the Nigerian media need to do more to combat the culture of intolerance, undemocratic practices and behaviour by the present crop of politicians. “Media owners should discourage funding of journalists by campaign teams of politicians as this poses a serious threat to the integrity of news reportage. The communiqué also recommended that lack of sensitivity in the portrayal of scenes of violence by the media should not be encouraged, because undue reportage of violent images can lead to voter apathy.”

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