By Josephine Agbonkhese, reporting from Cairo, Egypt
AFRICAN journalists have been urged to place premium on research and thorough investigation in the process of gathering and dissemination of information to avoid propagating false and damaging information to the public.
Giving this advice was Emad Omar, Chief Sub-Editor, Reuters, while delivering a lecture on yellow journalism, yesterday, in Cairo, Egypt, at the ongoing three-week media training for young African journalists drawn from over 22 African countries.
According to him, the dissemination of false information was inimical to the growth and integrity of the journalism profession, particularly with growing competition from the social media.
Emad, who stressed that widespread use of social media for information circulation posed great threat to the integrity of the journalism profession as well as the credibility of information churned out, said the mass media had a responsibility to protect the image of journalism.
In his words: “Whatever your political or religious principle, your profession is the most important. You do not have to write what you like or defend what you love. At all times, you should try to be truthful, objective, fair and factual in your reporting.
“Yellow journalism is dangerous to the growth of society and preservation of unity and democracy in every nation in Africa. It led to the death of people in Kenya and Rwanda and is still birthing chaos in most countries. In some parts of the world, there are penalties for yellow journalism, even up to death sentence.”
On his part, National Secretary, Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Shuaibu Leman, said yellow journalism “gives room to hate speech, a problem seen in different African countries including Nigeria, with hundreds of people losing their lives for tribal or political reasons.”
Leman, however, said Nigeria was doing everything possible to curb yellow journalism, alongside the excesses of the social media.