LAGOS – Bearing in mind the salient roles that politics plays in people’s lives, the International Press Centre (IPC) has urged journalists to ensure they strictly abide by the ethics of the journalism profession as 2019 general elections draw closer.
This was a fall-out of a two-day capacity building media workshop for political correspondents organised by the IPC in Abeokuta, Ogun State, as part of European Union Support for democratic governance in Nigeria.
While addressing participants at the workshop,
Lanre Arogundade, IPC Director, while speaking to the participants, said for the political reporter to play his role very well, the skill must be properly sharpened to disseminate information that would add value to the conduct of credible elections.
Arogundade maintained that in the context of modern day journalism, the political reporter must use data to disseminate sensible electoral information.
He added that such a journalist should factor in the human and social elements, and should not ignore in election reporting.
He stressed the need for such a reporter to be sensitive conflict situations, and must ignore the ethical and professional imperatives that underline good journalism.
Bolaji Adebiyi, Editor of ThisDay, who took participants on ‘Challenges of Election Coverage in Nigeria: A Reporter’s Account’ and ‘The Dos and Don’ts of Election Reporting’, said a reporter should be abreast of the legal framework of the electoral process.
He added that such a reporter must be conversant with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Guidelines, and the constitutions of political parties and guidelines for their internal elections.
Media organisations, he said, should organise trainings for their reporters on the essentials of these documents as well as their application to the basics of political coverage.
“Reporters should endeavour to research the background of the candidates, parties and areas of coverage before setting out on their assignment.
“This would guide them on the appropriate issues they should focus on. It would also enrich their understanding of unfolding events.
“In spite of the financial difficulties the industry face, media organisations need to find ways of adequately funding reporters on election duties. This is particularly important in order not to make them vulnerable to the antics of politicians.”
Adebiyi emphasised that reporters and their organisations should find creative ways of dealing with the legal restrictions to their coverage of election on polling days.
Of note, he said, is the challenge of movement restriction, which could be solved by reporters pulling resources to secure means of transportation.
He added that reporters and their organisations should invest in modern technologies such as tablets, Internet and smart phones, to aid speedy transmission of reports.
Adebiyi advised reporters to try and avoid conflict zones and unnecessary clashes with security agencies detailed to secure the election and anything that could compromise their integrity such as accepting undue favours from political actors.
Jide Ojo, an election expert and public affairs analyst took participants through ‘Integrating socio-economic and human index development data into political reporting ahead 2019 elections’ and ‘Reckoning with accountability and transparency issues in election reporting’.
Taiwo Obe, founder of Journalism Clinic and veteran journalist, focused on covering the political space using digital tools and apps.