By Martha Agas
The Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ), Plateau Council, has organised a one-day training for its members on promoting peace Journalism.
Speaking at the event on Thursday in Jos, the chairman of the chapel, Mr Gyang Bere, said the maiden edition of the training was in honour of six of its colleagues, who died in an accident in May 2006, in the convoy of former governor of Plateau, Joshua Dariye.
Bere said that given the current security challenges facing Nigeria, journalists have the responsibility to facilitate peace through their reports and programmes.
The chairman noted that effective use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) was critical in ensuring peace journalism.
“We are all aware of the insecurity that has taken a toll on our country, and for us as journalists in Plateau State and Nigeria, there is a need contribute our quota to restore peace in the country, hence this programme.
“We need to also be in tune with the global trend in journalism practice, leveraging ICT because we cannot be in isolation,” he said.
He said that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic threw up a new challenge as many ournalists could not optimally, saying building their capacity on ICT and improving on their skills would enhance their productivity.
Presenting a paper titled “Peace Journalism and Its Risks,” Mr Taiye Obateru, the former Head of Mass Communication Department of University of Jos, said that the well-being of society was critical, urging journalists to report objectively to diminish rather than inflate tension.
“Journalists can report conflicts as objectively as possible, but in a manner that would not exacerbate the situation.
“Apart from careful word choice, journalists could do follow-up stories, features, analysis and other programmes that promote peace in line with the Peace Journalism Model,” he said.
He, however, advised journalists to demonstrate some level of fairness and balance to remain credible in praticing Peace Journalism, so as to retain the confidence of their audiences.
Also, Dr Nentawe Yilwatda, the Resident Electoral Commisioner (REC) of Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC) in Benue, encouraged journalists to take advantage of the huge resource and tools on the internet in order to effectively discharge their responsibility.
Yilwatda, who presented a paper titled ” Social Media and the Survival of Traditional Journalism in a Digital Era: How to Effectively Reach the Public”, said there are websites and applications which enable internet users to create and share content which would be of great benefit to journalists.
He said the social media space had become very attractive source of news because of its access, saying a recent report shows that there are 104 million internet users and 33 million social media users in Nigeria, adding that 80.6 per cent of social media users are within the age range of 18 to 44.
He advised Journalists to develop their content to address the needs of the large category of social media users, noting that the platform can be use for collaborative reports, political revolution, a voice for the voiceless and for social and political processes among others.
The REC, however, cautioned journalists against using every material they get for their reports, saying there are tools that could enable them fact-check information using authenticators.
“Tools for the 21st century journalists include speech converter to convert text and TinEye or reverse image search application, to search images that have been used online before,” he said.
Other tools he said, include Otranscripe, DataPortals.org or Google Public Data
Tabula, OpenRefine and advanced Google Search among others. (NAN)