Veteran columnist and publisher of the Vanguard Newspaper who received a standing ovation for his contribution to the journalism profession told a stunned audience that he was at the receiving end of a fake news report recently.
Amuka narrated how an altruistic gesture intended for good reason turned out completely in a published report concerning detained activist, Omoyele Sowore.
“Some of you would have heard that on this Sowore matter, I was among the persons that went to the Department of State Services, DSS. And what was published that you saw was the opposite of what actually happened. Indeed we went to the DSS, but it was to tell the DSS to release Sowore because we believe that keeping him was not good for the government. It was not to negotiate with Sowore to come to terms with the government (as was reported),” he said.
He further advocated best practices for practising journalists particularly in the new era of digitisation.
“We are in a new era not only of journalism but life. For instance, many of you may not have known what Nigeria was when she gained independence. They say change is the only permanent thing. We are now in the digital age. In the digital age, everything goes. Anybody who can tweet or say anything is a ‘journalist.’ So, we need a book like this that gives a touch of professionalism. We have a lot of work to do with the people who called themselves professional journalists.
“Those who are practising journalists need to pay attention. In this era of fake news, many issues arise. And we need to be careful. One of the issues we face in the country today is hate speech, what it implies and what can be done about it. So, what is hate speech and who defines it? If somebody criticises you maliciously and you are in power and you have some authority, you can say that is hate news (speech).
“I do not think that death sentence it the answer to fake news. I do not think we need to impose legislation against hate speech and fake news media. Our constitution has stated what should be done. You can sue. We must find, think about the best thing to do to get positive results in the interest of the country. The country needs the media. If you don’t question power, power will corrupt,” he counselled.