Operators of online news platforms in Nigeria have been tasked to be objective in their reporting about the country, and avoid any sensational report that will destroy the image of the country in anyway.
This was the view of speakers and contributors during the Delta Online Publishers Forum (DOPF), inauguration in Asaba on October 11, 2017.
The DOPF inauguration which was marked by an Inaugural lecture with title “Impact of Online Journalists on Good Governance and Accountability” and a panel of four was attended by an array of Deltans across the state.
Chairman of the event, Hon Christopher Ochor Ochor the Executive Director Social Services Development, on the board of DESOPADEC, who was represented by Hon Charles Emetulu, the Executive Assistant to the governor on Community Relations, in his address, called on members of the newly inaugurated body to use their various platforms to fight against fake news which had taken over the internet spreading through various Social Networks.
“I believe this gathering is the right place to start the fight against fake news, because this form of news is mainly transmitted by online and social media practitioners, and I believe there should be control on how those of you who are involved in online news portals and social media platforms on the type of information you give out to the public. Any unverified message sent out is not only dangerous, but is capable of destroying the peaceful nature of the society”.
“The rate of fake information and news trending in the country is increasing daily and it is all from the cyberspace, which is the base of your operation.” He said.
On his part, the state commissioner of Information Mr Patrick Ukah, cautioned on the use of the online news media to run down others, tasking the members that integrity and objective reporting should be the keyword of owners of such news websites, and called on members of the forum to be the vanguards on the drive to eliminate fake and damaging news materials that are trending in the cyber space.
However, the guest speaker, Barr Malachy Ugwummadu, called on online news operators to report the true situation of the state, by ensuring that the developmental policies and statements are met, especially in budget implementations.
He stated that the online media has helped in the promotion of good governance and accountability in the country since the inception of democratic rule as they are interrelated to an extent.
“Democracy and online media are interrelated to such an extent that democracy has fostered online media use by way of further making the government to promote freedom of expression which is the foundation of the media. The online media has also fostered democracy by increasing peoples’ avenue to contribute to public affairs and influencing certain government decisions”.
He said the Nigerian constitution imposes a duty on the media to be the watchdog of the society, and this implies it should take vigilance over relationship between the people and the government.
“The fact that the constitution imposes a duty on the media to monitor governance implies that it should undertake vigilance over the relationship between the people and the government”.
Barr. Ugwummadu however called on media houses to be objective in their reporting, as that will be the only credible way to grow.
The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Sherrif Oborevwori, who was the Distinguished Guest at the Occasion, while congratulating the members for a successful inauguration, tasked them to be guided by the ethics of the journalism profession, and to remain objective.
“As you are coming on with your official inauguration, I implore you to be guided by the ethics of your noble profession, remain objective and do not play politics with your forum”. He said.
In his welcome address, the Chairman of the Forum, Mr Emmanuel Enebeli said the association was formed to promote the ethical standard of News Media’s operating online, and ensure that standards are kept, and to sure up public confidence of news from online news bodies in the state.
“Our main priority will be to provide an alternative, credible and believable platform to address and correct fake news as much as possible and promote the good of the state and her people.”
He pointed out that for the state to grow, and businesses to grow in the state, there must be corroboration between the state, and businesses, with a secure environment.
“We must work together to build a better Delta state, and Nigeria, where lives will be secured and citizens will be well informed through credible channels.”
The event which was attended by a cross section of professionals from the media, security, government and private sections, had a discussion section which had the South South Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr Edward Akpati Ogude, Miss Sindy Foster of Nylon Marketing Company, London, Ms Julie Ugbeni Lecturer from Delta State University, Abraka, and Ms Faith Nwadishi, Country Representatives of Transparency International on Extractive Industries, Norway and Executive Director of Koyenum Immalah Organisation, and Barr. Maxwell Omene Ogedegbe, as the moderator.
Some of the personalities who also attended the event were the Executive Assistant to the governor on Religious Matters, Bishop Breatman Nmalagu, Mr Jackson Ekwugum, Communication Manager to the governor, Representative of the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Charles Aniaghwu, Barr Kennedy Nwashindi, one time Chairman of Ukwuani Local Government Area, Representative of Senator Ighoyeta Amori Representative, of Hon Ndudi Elumelu, members of Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, (CDHR), the state Police Public Relation Officer, Mr Andrew Nwamaka, state NUJ Chairman, Mike Ikeogwu and others.