By Lizzy Okoji
Some media experts have stressed the importance of freedom of the press in nation’s development, advising practitioners to report in line with the ethics of the profession.
They gave the advice in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday, on the sideline of a three-day workshop organised for journalists by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) in Abuja.
The three-day workshop had its theme, “Freedom of the Press and the Codes of Conduct for Nigerian journalists’’.
They said that the media should re-assess the current state of press freedom for its improvement.
Speaking to NAN, Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, Executive Director, Premium Times and a facilitator at the workshop, said that freedom of the press was not a luxury but the core of development in every society.
Olorunyomi explained that the role of the media was key to effective development of any nation, and should have access to information and relay quality and truthful information to the public.
“You cannot qualitatively achieve development where freedom of the press is lacking because of the value of the media particularly that of accountability, transparency and poverty reduction.
“But that power can be seen in concrete terms or abstract terms. One way to look at it is the instrumental power that the media has.
“The media has the power to trigger other kinds of processes.
“Freedom of the media has become a factor like every other factor that you bring to a production process,’’Olorunyomi said.
He advised journalists to continue to practice within the best ethical standards of the profession, and try as much as possible to be truthful in their reportage.
According to Olorunyomi, accuracy in reporting is the primary definition of the job of a journalist.
He also urged the media to always provide effective verification for claims and avoid fake reportage.
Also speaking, Dr Tunji Ogunyemi, Head of History Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, said that the independence of the media was essential and that every media organisation must operate within the ethics of the profession.
Ogunyemi said that the independence of the media entails the capacity of the practitioners to be able to decipher issues and publish them in so far as they were truthful, promote public interest and for public benefits.
“This is essentially the purports of section 22 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which provides that the media is for the purpose of public benefits and interest.
“The media should be able to publish the truth regardless of their proprietorship.
“Independence of the media entails publishing news that are not dictated by any authority and that it does not become a mouth piece of only governments alone or any party, but rather a mouth piece of the Nigerian State.
“Letting government know where she has not done well and then letting the people know where the government has done well. It is very possible to achieve objective reportage,”Ogunyemi added.
Earlier, Mr Jide Ojo, Executive Director, Oja Development Consult, urged the media not to rely on social media as a primary source of information.
Ojo advised the media to always verify any information seen on social media from the verified source to avoid reporting fake news and causing embarrassment.
Said he: “Protection from internet falsehood and manipulation and other related matters bill popularly known as the Social Media Bill, had been perceived by some to abridge freedom of expression.’’
He however called on the media not to abuse the use of social media while reporting, advising that government should have a better way of regulating the social media space.
“We must learn to be responsible in the enjoyment of our fundamental human rights.
“I will prefer a different type of regulation which civic education, and also, working with the internet service providers to be able to come up with more creative restrictions.
“A journalist can use the social media as a secondary source of information and not as a primary source,” Ojo added. (NAN)