Comfort Nkong

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba; Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, Deputy Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies, Baze University, Prof Abiodun Adeniyi; Presidential Candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Adewole Adebayo and a Veteran Journalist, John Mayaki, are billed to speak on press freedom.

Others shortlisted are Head of Research, Savannah Centre for Diplomacy Democracy and Development, Col. Abdulwahab Ademola Lawal (Rtd) (PhD); Editor, Factcheck Hub and National Coordinator, Nigeria Fact-checkers Coalition (NEC), Opeyemi Kehinde, Hon. Barrister Kingsley Osadolor, Hadiza Zakari Usman, Amaka Udeh Walker and Folasade Orimolade.

The theme of the media workshop is titled: ‘Balancing Ethics and Patriotism: The Obligations of Journalists to their Country.’

The Organiser and Country Director, Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justice in Africa, John Mayaki, in a statement on Friday, explained that the event is aimed at reviewing media practice in Nigeria as a result of digital disruption.

“Essentially, it is an effort to review media practice in the country, especially in light of digital disruptions and with all that went down in the last election.

“We believe that there is a dangerous departure from responsible and ethical practice and the prevalence of fake news and negative propaganda.

“The workshop will assemble media experts, government representatives, and legal scholars to discuss issues related to the role of media in social stability, media regulation, patriotic journalism, ethics promotion and protection, etc.”

He disclosed that papers will be presented on the Role of Journalists in Promoting Patriotism and National Identity; Patriotic Journalism in the Digital Age; and Combatting Fake News: The challenges Facing Press Freedom in the Digital Age.

According to him, there will be a training by experts on the following topics: Fact-checking and media literacy: Tools for combating fake news; Ethical considerations in source management, and added that a panel session on the Impact of Fake News on Democracy and Society, would be presented.

He said the event became essential because of the role of the media and press freedom which he described as the cornerstone of every democracy.

“To effectively play its role as the Fourth Estate of power, the press relies on constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and a democratic atmosphere that that encourages criticism, transparency, and accountability.

“However, the freedom is not without responsibilities. Indeed, ethical obligations and concern for certain national interests, including peace and social stability, influence media operations and inform necessary limitations, often self-imposed.

“With the proliferation of the internet and other digital innovations which, among other dramatic effects on journalistic practice, has given rise to the widespread practice of citizen journalism and a 24/7 news cycle, focus has predominantly been on unfettered access to and distribution of information.

“Conversely, it is less about responsibilities and ethical lines. The field of journalism has been thrown
open to accommodate as many who are willing to join the fray and engage in the sensitive and important business of news and information management.

“While this has lowered barriers to access and increased reach, it has also raised serious questions about professionalism and ethical practice,” Mayaki added.


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