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Institute asks media to train journalists on election coverage

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The Institute for Media and Society (IMS) has tasked media owners and regulators on adequate and early planning to guaranty journalists’ safety on election coverage.

Executive Director of the institute, Dr. Akin Akingbulu, who stated this in Lagos at a programme organised by IMS with support from the European Union (EU), under the Support to Media component of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Project, said the programme was aimed at strengthening the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to deliver on its mandate.

According to him: “We have Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and other stakeholders to review the performances of the broadcast media and the regulator during the 2019 electoral process. The lessons learnt then came up with a strategy that would enable the media perform better. The meeting would also discuss issues around the proposed review of the Electoral Act with a view of generating recommendations for an improved performance of the media and the regulator in future elections.”

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The meeting listed some of the early warning signs of broadcast stations 12 months before the election to include a large number of journalists without training on hate-speech and fake news, security, delayed voter-education and social media as an unregulated source of information.

Akingbulu described the media environment as unique where political actors have very funny mindset, saying: “As far as they are concerned, election is war; a do-or-die affair. That kind of situation poses a big problem to journalism, as covering election becomes a very difficult thing.

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“For instance, we saw how journalists covering elections in 2019 were denied access, some were attacked, or even killed. In the run-up to 2023, the issue of journalists’ safety must be accorded with topmost priority, training on journalists’ safety and addressing the issue in law and electoral reform. We are mobilising the entire industry to be with us on this to make sure our input is taken into cognisance. The electoral reform needs to include journalists’ safety on election coverage.”

Some participants said: “We must not wait until 2023 to train journalists on election reporting. Preparations for the next election should start immediately after concluding one.”

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