The Association of Communication Scholars & Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN) has rallied some international organisations and professionals to seek ways of empowering African journalists to enable them discharge their civic obligations in a more socially-responsible manner for the betterment of the continent.
ACSPN recently held its Seventh Annual Conference virtually, with the theme: “Communicating Identities and Nationhood: Promoting Inclusive Democracy through Access to Information and Knowledge Societies”, in partnership with the united Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Information for All Programme (IFAP), World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), and the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON).
In a communiqué emanating from the conference and signed by the General Secretary, ACSPN, Prof. Nosa Owens-Ibie, the conference recommended amongst that Africans should change their mindset and determine their own and embrace emerging technologies so as to promote their own cause and tell their stories.
It emphasised the need for Africans to understand the worth of data, employ and engage data analysts as well as encourage media and information literacy; and that journalists should embrace fact-checking as a response to falsehood.
The conference advised that Africans should fashion out methods to empower media professionals to promote citizen representation and hold leaders accountable on issues of governance.
It said that media organisations should enhance fake news education/literacy level and train journalists to detect fake news; and that media organisations and relevant bodies should train Journalists on accurate health reporting.
It stated that that news consumer responsibility should include checking dates of news stories, checking veracity of websites and question news sources, so as to help consumers develop the ability to separate facts from fictions.
According to the communiqué, the media has a role to play in providing credible and accurate information on health issues, while there should be regular capacity building for journalists to keep them up to date on emerging issues.
It added that the media should refrain from sensationalism and the first-to-publish syndrome; pull localised interventions such as occasional use of second mobile phone, flashing culture, hiding caller identity, use of second-hand mobile phone, and multiple sim ownership to circumnavigate these challenges.
The communiqué further said: “that media organizations should ensure that government understand the indispensable role of the journalist in pandemics such as the COVID-19; that rather than government focusing on censorship, there should be demand on journalists to understand the technicalities that are required to present accurate information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That women should work with main stream media and utilise the new media, especially the social media to change the identity narrative; the Universities and other institutions of higher learning should be the place to train women to begin to tell the new story; that stakeholders should leverage on communication technology to enhance health care”.