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Only evidence-based journalism can curb fake news on COVID-19, others – Oloja

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[FILES] Martins Oloja

The Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian, Mr. Martins Oloja, has said that only evidence-based journalism can curb fake reports ravaging the media regarding COVID-19 pandemic and other science-based issues in the country.

He stated that the existence of practitioners with no background or training in data science was the reason for widespread publications of untrue reports on environmental, health and science issues in the country.

He made this known while speaking on the topic, ‘Evidence-Based Science Communication in the COVID-19 Era” at the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) media award dinner, yesterday, at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja.

Oloja added that the challenge to the media was that everybody in the country has now become an editor and reporter with the advent of citizen journalism.

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He stressed that a lot of persons who claim to be journalists do not have basic knowledge of the profession.

He said: “Only science based journalism can trigger readers and expose the excesses of government. And data and science, which are evidence based should be encouraged in the industry because it is only stories that are evidence based that can attract readers,” he said.

While calling on media managers to organise science-based training for reporters, he urged NAS to also organise science trainings, interactive sessions and workshops on evidence-based journalism that would enhance reporting skills of journalists.

While speaking at the event, the president of NAS, Prof. Ekanem Braide, said the aim of the academy has been to improve the nature of science reporting in Nigeria, adding that the academy has been achieving that through various awards and media sessions with journalists within the last 10 years.

She said: “Science has improved considerably and the country has not gotten to where it should be in terms journalism but will soon achieve the enviable height with continuous partnership with Vitafoam, who has remained our partner for 10 years, encouraging journalists in the science industry.”

During the award ceremony, Ms. Nkoli Omhoudu won the first runner up of the broadcast Science-journalist award category while Fisayo Soyombo was the first runner up for the print category. The winner for the broadcast category was Olufunke Fayemi for broadcast while Babatunde Atanda won the Best Science-Journalist in the print category.

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