African Heritage Institute has organized a one-day workshop for journalists in Enugu with a call on them to report objectively and shun sensationalism.
The executive-director of the Enugu-based institute, Professor Ufo Okeke-Uzodike, gave the charge in an address he presented during the workshop.
“Across countries and societies throughout modern history, the media has shaped or influenced social discourses and defined relationships between nation-states and their people,” he said, adding that whenever the media became cowardly and pliant, human rights abuses and dictatorship take deep root and become widespread as governments become hegemonic.
He noted further that where the media understands and defends its social mandate and responsibility to the public, human rights are respected and societies tend to prosper with democracy blossoming as well.
According to him, the net effect of the work of the media regardless of regime type is to nurture or strengthen good governance and democratic practice through its commitment to and defense of the public interest.
For the media to be effective, he explained, journalists must be committed to the quest for truth and should be capable of operating without fear or favour.
Prof. Okeke-Uzodike also during the engagement forum titled, “Collaborating for Greater Impact”, stressed the need for partnership amongst various CSOs and NGOs in the country. Such collaboration, he said, would help solve the many socio-economic challenges confronting the masses.
Change will not happen because we just wish it. It must be worked out and people aggregated together to jointly contribute to the change,” he pointed out.
In a lecture titled, “Leadership and Good Governance: Need for Responsible Reportage, Dr. Chris Ngwu, guest speaker and head of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology’s mass communication department, advised journalists to be objective in their reportage.
He described good governance as the most important factor in eradicating poverty and emphasized the need for the media to embrace professionalism in discharging their duties. “They should provide an enabling environment free from intimidation, use their strength as gatekeepers, report objectively and avoid sensationalism,” he counseled.
One of the participants at the event who contributed during the interactive session, Dr. Maxwell Ngene, senior lecturer in mass communication at the Renaissance University, Ugbawka, Enugu, stressed that it’s important for journalists to always realize that they are responsible for society’s growth.
He further noted that what the public read means a lot to the society, which implies that journalists must have high ethical standards as “image is very important”.