Participants at a one-day national stakeholders’ discussion forum to set the media and public agenda for the 2015 elections have called on media practitioners to respect the professional standards of accuracy, truthfulness, impartiality and fair play in election reportage.
The International Press Centre (IPC) on March 26, 2014 held a forum on media and public agenda for 2015 elections with support from the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Democratic Governance for Development project (DGD II).
The purpose of the meeting was to critically examine the interconnections between the public, the media and elections in developing an agenda that seeks to strengthen the role of the media in facilitating a credible electoral process.
The group observed that the Nigerian media do not recognize the important role they play in ensuring credible elections and that this affects their role in setting an electoral agenda which involves engaging politicians to know how their manifestoes address the priority development needs of the country. They also observed that the media do not make public interest reportage paramount at all times.
The meeting identified and highlighted important responsibilities and charter for media practitioners (journalists/reporters); media gatekeepers; media regulatory bodies; and support groups etc. Participants recommended that media practitioner should have a sense of balanced reporting and decency and not become tools in the hands of politicians in order not to aggravate election related conflicts. They also suggested that media practitioners should embark on self-development and employ various channels to update their knowledge on issue-focused election reporting.
It was also suggested that media practitioners should have understanding of and be guided by electoral laws including the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act while abiding by the professional code of conduct/ethics in the course of election coverage.
Participants at the meeting recommended that media gatekeepers should ensure adequate welfare packages and modern equipment are provided for its officers and that they take other necessary measures to protect the interest of professionals working under them at all times, especially during elections.
They encouraged media support groups to aid media professionalism by building the capacity of media practitioners on advanced knowledge of election reporting; increase public enlightenment activities especially voter education; and monitor media coverage of elections in relation to equity of access for parties and candidates, women, youths and disadvantaged groups etc.
They called on the NUJ to:create awareness about and enforce the code of conduct for journalists; ensure adequate protection for practitioners on election duty; protect the interest of media practitioners; fight for the welfare rights of its members at all times and especially during elections; and defend the rights of journalists to freely cover the elections without any form of molestation or harassment
Full report on the national stakeholders’ forum is available online at http://bit.ly/1lbR3MZ