Why professionalism, ethics should guide election coverage, by stakeholders
TO ensure professionalism and ethical issues are taken very serious before, during and after election, stakeholders have suggested that a larger forum comprising Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Press Council (NPC), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) and other relevant bodies to carry out a wider post mortem on the performance of the media in an holistic manner.
This was contained in the communiqué issued at the end of seminar to assess media coverage of the 2015 general election where the consensus was that the media did not exhibit enough level of professionalism.
Advising that the upcoming summit of these relevant stakeholders should be held within the next six months, the participants argued that making training and re-training a continuous process would enhance their professionalism and performance.
The communiqué, which was jointly signed by the Executive Secretary of NPC, Nnamdi Njemanze; Chairman, Lagos NUJ, Deji Elumoye; and Chairman of the workshop, Dr. Tom Adaba, also advised media professionals to train themselves on how to do collective bargaining with their employers with a view to improving negotiations on their welfare.
“The NUJ should organize an unbiased debate at all levels for all political candidates. The establishment of the National and State Monitoring Network on Safety of Journalists, the first of its kind in Africa which has led to a drastic reduction in cases of brutalization of journalists should be sustained.”
Media proprietors were also encouraged to key into the insurance scheme already put in place by the NUJ for practicing journalists.
In his opening remarks, Njemanze providing insight into what the seminar is about and what motivated it, said that, “we are here today to carry out an introspection on media performance before, during and after the elections. I need not rehash to you on some of the criticisms that trailed the reportage of political campaigns, particularly the political advertisements and documentaries, which not a few Nigerians deemed as hate mongering.”
The lead presenter, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, in his paper noted that it is very difficult to give an overall or all encompassing assessment of media performance in the last elections, bearing in mind that the media landscape is very wide, incorporating not just the conventional media but also the various forms of social media as well.
For him, the lack of consideration for ethical standard is apparently more prevalent in the later but opinion remains divided on whether or not the social media should be subject of regulation.
“It should be noted that Media monitoring during elections is also done for different purposes subject to the interest of the stakeholders. Some narrow their focus on reporting of women issues; some, access to political parties; some the language of reporting of women politicians and female candidates; some, the degree of voter education etc.
“This should be seen as a case of the more the merrier for it is the outcome of such diverse and interest driven monitoring that can give us an objective assessment of media performance during elections, that would perhaps not be now, but much later,” the IPC boss stated.
Arogundade noted that there were significant areas of non-compliance with the code of election coverage while there were only few areas of compliance.
He also observed that there are major challenges with the implementation and enforcement of the code, as the monitoring and the enforcement mechanisms were non-existent.
“However, the point must be stressed that the code of election coverage is relatively new while the dissemination did not meet expectation prior to the elections. Enough copies were not produced for journalists in different parts of the country. This should be food for thought in looking ahead to future elections.
“Media organizations must realize that whatever the circumstances, it pays to keep faith with professionalism and ethics. Those who do, will reap the profit on the long run as the experience of Channels TV is showing. Those who ignore ethics will smile to the banks today but possibly come out of the banks crying tomorrow.”
While the pioneer Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Dr. Adaba moderated the session, Chairman, Lagos NUJ discussed Arogundade’s presentation. The seminar drew participants from print and electronic media outlets.