Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) Executive Director has been named a member of Premium Times Oversight Board by the online newspaper management which described him as “a strong global voice on freedom of expression.” The Board will serve as advocate for readers with regards to any professional or ethical misconduct. The online news medium made the announcement on May 3 to commemorate the 2017 World Press Freedom Day.
Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, publisher of the paper said Premium Times launched the initiative to make its journalism more transparent, and its editorial decision-making more accountable, adding that the seven-member committee of distinguished Nigerians is tasked to receive complaints arising from Premium Times reporting.
Mr. Olorunyomi said: “This development is consistent with the three key things that define the centerpiece of our values, and our journalism – our obligation to the pursuit of truth and accuracy; our loyalty to our readers; and our insistence that the essence of our journalism is to the discipline of verification.”
The oversight mechanism is designed to help hold up Premium Times judgments, actions, inactions, ethical standards, and journalism, to strong scrutiny in the contexts of independent, competent, and professional norms.
“Without an independent professional oversight over a journalistic enterprise, the professional will be prone to egregious abuses and ethical failures that defeat the aspiration of a media that will support democratic development,” Mr. Olorunyomi said. He added that the case of a public oversight over journalism is consistent with the idea of making integrity and accountability part of every editorial process and outcome.
The publisher promised that Premium Times will actively invite complaints and comments on all its platforms for the committee to help it do its work through a secretariat, adding it will also encourage them to do regular columns on complaints and ethical failures.
Other persons named along with MRA’s Executive Director into the Board are Ms Amma Ogan, the widely respected first substantive editor of The Guardian on Sunday and later co-publisher of the rested NEXT newspaper; Kole Shettima, a political scientist and development expert who currently works as regional director of the Macarthur Foundation at its Abuja office; and Chidi Odinkalu, respected civic advocate, law academic, and former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.
Others are Muazu Mohammed, a mass communication professor at the University of Maiduguri; Zainab Said Kabir, a sociologist and development specialist currently on academic tenure at the Bayero University, Kano; and Ayo Obe, a lawyer, human rights activist, newspaper columnist and television presenter. Ms. Obe was President of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Nigeria’s oldest indigenous human rights organisation, and chairs the Board of Trustees of the Gorée Institute in Senegal. She is Vice Chair of the Brussels-based think tank, International Crisis Group.
The publisher said: “Eventually we will hope that colleagues and peers in the industry will take advantage of this service in collaborative submission of editorial judgment to the power of a civic community, and in that baby step, help birth a true Nigerian Media Ombudsman.”