The Coordinator, Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), Motunrayo Alaka alongside other media experts have called on journalists and other actors in the media industry to uphold the ethics of the journalism profession.
They made the call at an event held on Friday, 3 May 2019, by Civic Media Lab in conjunction with the European Union and British Council under the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) initiative to commemorate the year’s World Press Freedom Day.
Motunrayo Alaka, who was a keynote speaker at the event, lamented the ease of peddling fake news through technology. She said, “Disinformation is becoming a weapon of mass destruction used by bad leaders to cover up their wrong doings. Whereas, it was easy to curtail information in the past, it has become increasingly difficult due to technological advancements. This has therefore led to public distrusts regarding information that gets circulated.”
She advanced journalism ethics and observance of highest level of professionalism as the solution to the problem of fake news in the media. She said, “Journalists should embrace ethics and highest professionalism. There is no better defender of truth than a community of truth adherents. When the media is stranded, democracy is stranded and the people become stranded. We must therefore ensure the press remains free and independent.”
Affirmed that the credibility of the media is affected when the public sees deceits through disinformation in media reportage, Lekan Otufodunrin, the second keynote speaker, challenged journalists to be more vigilant and to wade off the influence of external bodies who try to tamper with information. He further encouraged journalists to do more fact checking before posting or publishing stories and avoid publishing claims that cannot be substantiated.
Also speaking at the event, Omoyele Sowore, Founder of Sahara Reporters, charged the press to continue performing its watchdog role and make sure that they are not entangled by way of their personal conducts.
The event also featured a panel discussion, which was moderated by Oluwaseun Akinfolarin, Director, Civic Media Lab. The discussants were Juliana Francis, Crime reporter at New Telegraph Newspaper; Yele Sowore, Founder of Sahara Reporters; David Ajikobi, Nigeria Editor, AfricaCheck; Motunrayo Alaka, WSCIJ Coordinator; Sanmi Falobi, Programme Manager, International Press Centre and Abiose Adelaja Adam, Programme Officer at the Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation. Among key issues raised during the panel discussion, were that the journalists should be protected from unlawful attacks, and that journalists should build new relationship with members of the public, especially in regaining its trust.