How journalists can resolve conflicts through diversity reporting
• JODER to launch manual on coverage of disputes
In a bid to ensure a stable and sustainable social order, journalists have been urged to act as pathfinders in the country through thorough investigative reporting based on ensuring ethical practice on the field.
While speaking recently in Lagos at a media session organised by Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER), in collaboration with the New York-based International Institute for Education (IEE), Executive Director of the group, Mr. Adewale Adeoye, said reporting diversity was one of the strategic ways media practitioners can add to the debate on the future of the country and strengthen democratic institutions.
He pointed out some natural constraints of media practitioners in terms of ownership structure and access to information in terms of the capacity of media organisations and individual journalists, saying, “But not withstanding, the good journalist goes the extra mile to overcome these constraints, to give background to the story and make it different from what other people are writing and create unusual angle to the story.”
While speaking on the journalist’s manual to be launch by the group in November, he said, “Journalists do not have absolute knowledge. Journalism is a changing game; new lessons and skills are coming up, which can be accessed on the Internet, but we decided to put all of these resources together in one piece to guide the Nigerian journalists to meet international standard.”
Adeoye advised that the journalist must disassociate himself from the story and write very objectively, especially when reporting sensitive issues so as not to trigger another conflict.
According to him, “In reporting such conflicts, it is important for the journalist to interview the different actors and give them equal space and analyse the views being offered by all the contending interests.
“Nigeria is passing through difficult moments. Since the country’s independence, there has not been an inspiring national ethos. The country remains deeply divided; poverty and underdevelopment remain; justice and human rights issues are yet to be fully addressed.”
He, however, urged the media to come forward and shape the future of the country through diversity reporting.
“By reporting diversity, journalists are also promoting good governance, preventing conflict and deepening the culture of debate, dialogue and strengthening the capacity of the media to promote the public good.”
The meeting had speakers from civil society, self-determination group, past and practicing journalists among others, who argued that there was need for journalists to detach themselves from sentiments and go the extra mile in researching, especially in conflict situations.
For a credible, fair and balance reporting, the speakers said while reporting conflicts, it is important for the journalist to learn about the cultural perception of the people involved.
Mr. Ajayi Popoola of civil society said the era of creative journalism was almost gone, adding that there was need to develop reading culture among journalists, noting, “The journalist must report beyond press conferences and be agents of change in the society.”
Also, Bright Ezeocha, who belongs to Igbo Youth Organisation, regretted the lack of in-depth and follow-up reporting on conflict issues by the media, citing the example of the alleged invasion of Nnamdi Kalu’s house on September 14, 2017 by the army.
According to him, “No media house saw the need to investigate further. About 28 people were killed on that day and no media reported it. I urge the Nigerian media to carry out more investigation outside the normal press releases being issued.”
Former Deputy Editor of Daily Times, Mr. Tunde Abatan, said, “Reporters are expected to engage diversity reporting through an intensive, constructive dialogue. Diversity reporting in a plural society like ours is as important as promoting utilitarian value and the public good.”
JODER believes that diversity represents the various shades of material, social, political and cultural relations in the society and the manner the media engages them.
A statement by JODER offers, “Diversity reporting is the acid media responsibility to the people, test for effective media coverage of all phenomenon in relation to the activities of mankind, the environment, culture, poverty issues, gender, disability issues and the interplay of all other social forces in a given society.
“The media is expected to perform public functions, whether the media institution is owned by the government or individuals. Even when media organisations are profit-driven, the silent shareholders of information are the people.”
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