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NPC, NUJ, others caution journalists on COVID-19 reporting

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President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Chris Isiguzo

Journalists have been urged to be safety-cautious while reporting coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related matters, as the public depends on them, as frontline partners, to be abreast of the true information on the virus.

The Nigerian Press Council (NPC), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other information experts made the appeal in Enugu State yesterday during the ongoing workshop on the ‘Role of the Media in the Fight against COVID-19’ organised by NPC for journalists in the South East.

The workshop noted that many people had been misinformed on the pandemic.

Declaring the workshop open, Enugu State Commissioner of Information, Chidi Nnayelugo, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Christian Mbam, noted that since the public relied on journalists for information, the media should be safety-conscious.

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He urged journalists to exploit the greater media space for effective and more professional sieving of content to curb fake news capable of causing disaffection.

According to him, though journalists globally have done well in reporting COVID-19, more work needed to be done to control the media space.

The Executive Secretary of NPC, Francis Nwosu, said that the council considered the theme of the workshop critical, adding that with the emerging challenges of the pandemic and related matters, “our roles as purveyors of information is critical at this period.”

National President of NUJ, Chris Isiguzo, pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari, state governments and other stakeholders to provide essential packages for journalists, one of the frontline partners, like those in the medical sector, adding that some journalists lost their lives in the fight against the pandemic.

He encouraged journalists to be factual in their reporting of COVID-19-related issues, stressing that accurate reportage would clear doubts in some quarters on the existence of COVID-19.

Speaking on ‘Ethical Consideration and Safety of Journalists during COVID-19 Reporting’, the Head, Department of Mass Communication, University of Jos, Dr. Taye Obateru, charged journalists to learn and understand medical terms, noting that the jargons, if not well explained, would confuse and misinform the public.

He urged journalists to observe all precautionary measures put in place by relevant authorities, adding that many of them had been traumatised while performing their professional duties.

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