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Put national interest first in reporting terrorism, workshop charges journalists

By Laraba MUREY

The Nigerian Press Council, NPC, has charged journalists in Nigeria to put national interest above any other consideration while reporting on violent extremism and terrorism.

The call was made at a two-day workshop in Abuja by the NPC and had participants drawn from six states and the FCT in the North Central geopolitical zone.

Addressing participants at the workshop with the theme; “The Role of the Media in Combating Violent Extremism and Terrorism in Nigeria,” the Executive Secretary of the NPC, Mr Francis Nwosu, said the workshop was aimed at boosting the capacity of media professionals in reporting of terrorism-related happenings.

Nwosu explained that, “it is an undisputable fact that terrorism has many aspects that make it attractive to the media. These include the danger and human tragedy which has made the media to be interested in reporting terrorism. The concern of the council is not why the media reports terrorism, but how they report it.

According to him “Evidence abounds in some sections of the media, precisely the social media that shows that the media and terrorism have traditionally embraced interdependence that impede government’s efforts against counter-terrorism which advertently or inadvertently may alter the content and context of news.”

In addition, “Terrorists in order to achieve their objectives seek to promote their acts of violence to a wide and diversified audience as possible, while the media engage in sensationalism to keep audience captivated, increase ratings and perhaps increase their stakes.”

In his remarks, the chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists FCT Council, Emmanuel Ogbeche, described the workshop as timely in assisting journalists as they report on terrorism and in a crisis environment.

“Our country today is faced with security challenges and one aspect is reporting violence extremism. This workshop will bring us into speed on making decisions on what to publish and not to publish.”

He urged all the participants to begin to hold conversations that will make Nigeria have a specific national interest as against the national interest of office occupiers in the country.

Some papers presented at the workshop by media experts included a lawyer, Mr Ibe Ikwechegh, who facilitated “The role of Media in Maintaining Balance Between Public and National Interest”, a senior lecturer in the Department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan, Dr Bisi Olawuyi, on “Code of Ethics and Social Responsibility as Parameters for Reporting Terrorism.”

Others include the editor, National Star, Mr. Akin Orimolade, who spoke on ‘The Role of Media in Counter Terrorism,” a former Editor-in-Chief, News Agency of Nigeria, Mr. Alli Hakeem, on “Challenges of the Media in Reporting Terrorism.”

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