by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
An NGO, ‘ActionAid, Global Peace Development and Dispute Resolution and Development Initiative’ has listed some basic safety measures and approaches required of media practitioners covering elections and conflicts situation, ahead of the 2023 general elections.
This was disclosed at a two-day Media Master-class on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in Kano and Kaduna States, organised by the body, with the theme: ‘Strengthening Media Capacity as a Catalyst for Social Cohesion.’
A Communiqué issued at the end of the 2-day Media Master-class training in Kaduna identified quite a number of measures needed to be put in place for safety of journalists in conflicts-related issues.
Key among the measures includes proper accreditation/identification, objective and unbiased reportage, ethnic profiling, balancing and fair representation of the parties in conflicts, amongst others.
After lecture series, participants also stressed the need for a cohesive society, where people would willingly work and cooperate, despite their differences in culture and belief, as well as treating all cultures, races, sexual orientations and gender equitably, in order to eradicate fractures, and connects everyone to resolve conflicts.
Journalists should also avoid biases that creep into report by ensuring proper framing, adequate representation and fact-checking for accuracy without downplaying the role of social media.
“Journalists must ensure full accreditation to cover the election, take necessary precautions, always work in groups for their safety, cover from a safe position, ensure accuracy and eschew sentiments and political affiliations in their reports.
“Journalists should also engage in investigative journalism during the elections. Digital media literacy is an essential skill in the 21st century, which plays crucial roles in building social cohesion. Skills such as critical thinking and evaluation can creatively be employed to guarantee e-safety, which in turn helps to foster understanding, empathy and tolerance.
“Journalists must be professional, ethical and report responsibly to avert conflict. Before covering election in any area, journalists need to understand the terrain, characteristics of the people, meet with the decision makers in the area and avoid misinformation, marl-information and disinformation in their reports.
“Journalists need to have good knowledge of the Electoral Act to enable seamless coverage of the general elections to know when things are wrong.
“Participants commend ActionAid Nigeria, Global Peace Development and Dispute Resolution and Development Initiative for putting together the Media Master-class,” it stated.
Communiqué stated that, “Conflict is different interests competing at the same time. Conflict is part of life, but violent conflict is unacceptable to the society. There are direct violence (war, riots) and indirect violence (poverty, hunger, discrimination),” it added.
It also stated that, “Media reports need to be accurate, impartial, fair, objective and responsible not to cause violent conflict. Journalists must stop labelling, profiling and using stereotype and must apply survival-centered approach in reports; engage in developmental journalism to raise solutions alongside challenges.
“Journalists should engage in responsible journalism to ease tension and calm nerves. Seek consent before interviewing or taking picture of a survivor and put human face to stories.
“Media reports should focus on human-angle stories, avoid using victims to describe conflict survivors, elevate the voices of the survivors and common people in conflicts and in grassroots.
“Journalists should focus on social issues such as poverty, corruption, ethnic and religious tension, appalling education, human rights abuses, gender inequality, health challenges and environmental degradation, among others,” it stated.
The communiqué was E-signed by the Communiqué Committee, including AbdulRaheem Aodu, Bashir Bello and Nonye Juliet Ekwenugo.