By Marie-Therese Nanlong
In order to encourage the practice of peace journalism among trainee reporters 27 students from Mass Communication/Theatre Arts departments in the various higher institutions in Plateau State have been inducted as Fellows who would get training that would empower them to deliver on the mandate of peace reportage and foster peaceful co-existence among the diverse groups in the society.
The students drawn from the University of Jos, Plateau State University, Bokkos, Plateau State Polytechnic, Barkin Ladi, Nigerian Television Authority, NTA TV College and the National Film Institute will be mentored for 40 days and are expected to develop media for peace initiatives that would engender peace in the society.
Speaking at the induction ceremony, the State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dan Manjang commended Search for Common Ground, the Non-Governmental Organization that is driving the process for their doggedness and collaboration with the government to ensure lasting peace is restored in the State.
Manjang, represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Michael Pam reminded the students that citizens have the responsibility to keep the peace hence they should shun the temptation of being induced to do the wrong thing while practicing the journalism profession.
According to him, “You have a key responsibility to be peace builders, the Holy Book says blessed are the peace makers… I implore you to work within the tenet of the journalism profession and don’t be induced to do the wrong things because whatever you do, remember that you will account of your deeds.”
One of the mentors to the Fellows, Dr. Taye Obateru, who is the Head of Department, Department of Mass Communication, University of Jos also tasked the Fellows on professionalism saying they have the duty to redeem the misrepresented image of journalists in the country by portraying the message of peace in the respective works.
His words, “This induction means a lot to us because it means that some groups outside the University are beginning to appreciate the need for collaboration with higher institutions in training our students. We train our students but this very programme is peace specific which means that they are joining us to train our students to be peace journalists.
“We all know the problem we have been having in Plateau State especially in the area of peace, so if we have an NGO that is interested in training our students, it means a lot because they are going to be Fellows, taken through the training and of course, they will be monitored and kind of oriented towards peace. We expect them to be better people by the time they get to the field.
“This training is very important because peace is one area that journalists have been accused of a lot. Some people will say journalists are fanning the embers of crises, I am sure this training will expose them to those rudiments they have to know and add to the training they get from the University on peace. It is a complementary knowledge they are getting and they are going to have people in the field interacting with them. No knowledge is a waste so whatever they got from the classroom and whatever they get here will enhance their training as journalists.”
Earlier, the Media Officer of Search for Common Ground, Rhoda Daniel said the project is targeted at emerging media practitioners in the State who would be trained on the need for common ground journalism, understanding of conflict analysis, conflict sensitive journalism, fact check, fake news, precursor for societal conflicts among other topics and urged the participants to make use of the opportunity to contribute their quota to peace building.