Kaduna – Dr Abdullahi Idris, Executive Director Services of the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company (KRPC) has called on regulators to review the Journalism codes of ethics, to include stiffer sanctions on purveyors of fake news and hate speech.
Idris said this was necessary to curtail the growing spread of fake news and hate speech in the country.
Idris made the call in a paper titled: ‘Ethical Conduct in the Media Coverage of Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry,’ presented at a 2-day Seminar for
Energy Correspondents, which ended in Kano on Sunday.
The seminar was under the theme: ‘Ethics, Professionalism and Credibility in Media Practice: The Intervening variables of fake News and Hate speech in the Nigerian News Coverage.’
Idris specifically urged the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and Nigerian Press Council (NPC) to review and strengthen existing sanctions against defaulters as the spread of fake news and hate speech is fast becoming a threat to national security.
Meanwhile, the participants, at the end of the seminar resolved to work together in addressing the growing menace of fake news and hate speech among practitioners.
The participants in a communique issued by the leader of the group and National Ex-officio of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Garba Muhammad observed that fake news and hate speech are being perpetrated by both professional and non professionals in the media industry.
They observed that the activities had become a threat to the practice of credible journalism, democracy as well as unity, peace and overall national
The communique read in part: “Lack of upholding tenets of the profession and decline in traditional journalistic practice are responsible for the overwhelming trending of fake news and hate speeches in the public sphere.
“Journalists must learn and understand the professional ethics, as well as synergise among themselves to take advantage of the innovative fact checking mechanisms with a view to combating fake news and hate speeches.
“As agenda setters, the media and journalists must set agenda in the public interest rather than allowing political actors set the agenda for them.
“Self-development, training and re-training and provision of modern equipment and remuneration will enable journalists perform their duties adequately and combat fake news and hate speeches.”
The participants also noted that, with 2019 general elections drawing closer, the phenomena of hate speeches and fake news are at their peak.
They therefore appealed to journalists to be mindful of what constitutes hate speech and fake news that could cause untold damages to the nation’s development drive.
The participants reminded journalists of their responsibility to hold the public and public officials accountable in accordance with the provision of Chapter II section 22 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
They also urged media regulatory bodies to review their laws from time to time and enforce severe sanctions on all erring organisations or defaulting journalists.
The communique also read in part: “Media owners should avoid undue influence that infringes on professional and ethical conduct of the media and practitioners.
“The Nigeria Union of Journalists should put to task media owners on the necessity of insurance cover for their practitioners, in view of the risks involved.
“The NUJ should always support their members and use internal mechanisms to sanction erring members.”
The communique urged Media organisations to own up to their mistakes and proactively correct such by retracting and apologising when the need arises.
More than 30 selected journalists, drawn from various media houses in Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi States and the Federal Capital participated in the seminar.
The seminar attracted presentations and lectures from Prof Ladi Adamu of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, Dr Fatima Shaibu of Kaduna Polytechnic, and a Consultant and Motivational Speaker, Dr Musa Bawa.