By Jessica Onyegbula
The Chairman, Social Communications, Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and Archbishop of Onitsha Archdiocese, Most Rev Denis Isizoh has urged media practitioners to promote peaceful coexistence through effective reporting.
Isizoh, who made the call during a Church service to commemorate World Communications Day (WCD) celebration, in Abuja, noted that journalists must help in combating fake news in Nigeria.
According to him, fake news was causing more harm than good in the society and rather than writing fake news, journalists should write to promote peace across the nation.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of this year’s WCD was titled: ”Come and See”.
”Some people spread falsehood. Also, when people are killed, massacred, beheaded, they show the corpses and the people massacred, that is not good and it is not decent.
”It will be wonderful if these images are protected. Images that when you close your eyes, you will still feel bad about it.
”Journalists must find a way to report in such a way that people will find a way to promote peace. We can help people to find a way to achieve common understanding in the community. That is what I am praying for,” he said.
He said that when ”A good journalist covers events live, filled with people, and comes back with news that shows they were there and they witnessed it and when they write their news, people will know that they were there to witness the events.
”We want to encourage Nigeria journalists to practice ”come and see” model type of journalism. Let journalists attend events and report it as it was seen, instead of speculating. That’s no the kind we need in Nigeria,” he said.
Isizoh also urged journalists not to twist the news negatively and make people react and develop negative sentiments.
”Now, is a difficult period for most Nigerians. People from different parts of the country complain about insecurity, fear, lack of trust, rumour mongering and ethnic conflicts, but we must use communication to unite the nation.
”Political leaders are also invited to “come and see. A good leader must know the actual background of the electorate. It is this first-hand knowledge that should guide provision of social amenities, roads, water, good education, and quality life,” Isizoh said.
The cleric further said: ”The ease to reach out to a vast number of persons makes it difficult to control information today.
”Fake news, prejudiced information, harmful messages that encourage violence and war are easy to formulate and disseminate. Some have even used this method to whip up negative sentiments against others.
”While talking about the several things not going on well in Nigeria, it might be helpful to step back and reflect. There is so much bitterness and negativity when we Nigerians talk about ourselves and our country,” he said.
The Bishop also urged the media to use the instruments of communication to promote the values of love, unity and peace among men and women of goodwill, in solidarity with those on the margins of the society.
”When you cover events, bear in mind that you want peace to reign in Nigeria. You want Nigeria to be united. You want people to work together for the good of the country, and you want justice,
”So, when you are reporting, report in such a way that there will be room for people to work together, there will be room to have a solution to the problem.
”So journalists should not contribute to the problem but help to solve it,” he added.
Fr. Mike Umoh, National Director of Communications, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, said that communication was key to nation building.
Umoh, who noted the theme for this year’s WCD as “Come and see”, stressed that the media had played a huge role in Nigeria right from independence to the present democratic dispensation.
”The Nigerian media has sacrificed the high profit in fake and distorted journalism and stood firm in what journalism should be, thereby building the society.
Communication is important in the development of any nation. It has always been the position of the Church that communication is primarily for and about the good of the human person and the advancement of his society,” he said. (NAN)