Ugo Aliogo, Peter Uzoho and Joshua Odebisi
The President of Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) Mrs. Funke Egbemode, has called on the public and private sector to treat the media as a serious business and not as Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
Egbemode, who disclosed this at the 2017 World Press Freedom Day Programme, organised by the U.S. Consulate in Nigeria, said since the media plays an active role in nation building through its reportage, there was need for other agencies of the state to give it the needed support.
She explained that there is need for the media to advocate, defend, and promote itself, adding that they give priority attention to other sectors, without making conscious efforts to promote itself.
Egbemode further called on journalists to pay more attention to fact-checking in their reporting and not depend only on the Freedom of Information Act (FOI).
â€œWe need to do better at checking our facts, we need to not just depend on the Freedom of Information Act, we survived without it, so we must not become complacent and say we have applied for information from the Ministry of Information or Defense and then go to sleep. We must bring out that element with which we work and do things the way it ought to be done. We must continue to rely on our skills, the skills we were born with. Journalism is not just about what you learn in school, there is a huge element of passion, we have to bring that element to what we do,â€ she noted.
She added that in the area of gate keeping, the media in Nigeria is doing its best, while noting that media practitioners in Nigeria have the capacity to compete favourably with their counterparts anywhere in the world.
In his remarks, U.S. Consul General, John Bray, commended the Nigeria media for its efforts in promoting accountability and transparency in governance especially during the military era.
â€œI have seen that you are still the voice of the forgotten, but I have also seen that you have not lost your search for the truth, or your willingness to go wherever the story leads you. In the process, you portray transparency, accountability and good governance in your country and the United States fully supports your efforts and the freedom of the press, because we believe that an unfettered press is necessary for democracy to thrive.â€
He remarked that advances in technology and reliance on social media platforms as sources of information makes the accuracy and objectivity of their reporting critical.
Advising the media on fact checking, Bray added: â€œYou have to get it right. So check and double check your facts before you put out a story, that increases your personal credibility, the reliability of your platform and reduces your exposure to libel. Also be thorough with your research, take a look at every side of a story before you hit send, in short, be objective.â€