Newsroom verification units will curb misinformation, disinformation- Experts

Wed, Aug 16, 2023
By editor


THE Executive Director, International Centre for Investigative Journalism (ICIR), Mr Dayo Aiyetan, has called for the creation of verification units in all newsrooms, to prevent misinformation and disinformation in Nigeria’s public space

Aiyetan made this call at the ongoing Investigative Journalism Training for Journalists Reporting in Suppressive Environment in Abuja on Wednesday.

The workshop, which was organised by Global Rights Nigeria, with support from Heinrich Boll Foundation, has the theme, ‘Navigating the Ethics of Journalism in Strengthening Civic Freedom’.

According to him, media organisations have the responsibility to hold people to account in accordance with the constitution, saying it must be done ethically.

He said it was only through good journalism that conflicts would be reduced, saying journalists must do things correctly, not forgetting the public and national interests.

The executive director noted that agendas and biases could change at anytime, adding that evidence- based reporting would go a long way toward improving information ecosystem through source verification.

“Research is key in all things concerning journalism, and you must source map your story, reporting conflicts effectively would help to hold back more tension that may occur from fake news and propaganda.

“Conflict sensitive reporting will help to puncture misconceptions and this can be done through ethics, accountability and social responsibility”.

Aiyetan said the media had the right to request for information using the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, saying it provides public access to relevant information and curbs corruption in the system.

He added that the FOI Act also allowed public officials to respond to information requests, protects them, saying media houses and not the reporters should lead the requests.

Earlier, Mr Musikilu Mojeed, Editor in Chief, Premium Times, who spoke on Journalism Ethics, noted that fake news and ethical violations should not be allowed in the profession.

Mojeed said journalism standards were global, calling for accountability, objectivity, transparency, fairness and public accountability in all media reportage.

He said the media ought to seek all sides on issues before publishing, saying editorial independence, privilege and non-disclosure should be respected and in protecting news sources at all times.

“Journalists must work with decency and think about unity, do not throw the nation into chaos from your reporting, personal conduct also matters at all times”.

The editor in chief also spoke about news verification, saying documents provided evidence and authenticity to one’s report, saying verification must be done always.

He added that they could be sourced from state government websites, government budgets, company records, noting that genuineness of a document was in its authenticity and authority.

He however urged the Nigeria Union of Journalists to fight for the rights of its members for improved welfare, health insurance, pension, calling on journalists to be ethical and adhere to code of conduct at all times.

Mr Edosa Oviawe, Global Rights Nigeria Program Manager, said the civic space could be improved by allowing citizens have freedom to express themselves without fear or suppression.

Oviawe said Nigeria’s civic space was shrinking with evidence of media censorship, Twitter bans, suppression of political and social views, harassments, saying democratic values encouraged citizen’s’ participation in all areas.

“A civic space is an environment where the people expresses their thoughts, participate in decision making and engage in peaceful activities to promote the wellbeing of the society.

“There is a rapid regression of the Nigerian civic space over the years which is as a result of different factors.

“Broadly speaking, civic space restrictions have measurable impacts on sustainable development goals, reducing the ability of nations to tackle poverty and hunger and reach marginalised groups”.

He said there was need for building strong democratic structures and fostering vibrant spaces for all Nigerians and the civil societies to participate effectively.

The program manager said tackling the challenges around the shrinking civic space would require deliberate and collective action by multiple stakeholders to ensure the protection of fundamental rights and freedom of Nigerians. (NAN)


August 16, 2023 @ 15:26 GMT|