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The Need For Responsible Journalism

By Kehinde Adewole

“More and more, journalism seems to have hopped out of Truth’s pocket and crept into another”Henry Rollins

Responsible journalism plays a crucial role in any society, including Nigeria. It is essential in upholding democracy, ensuring transparency, and holding those in power accountable. In Nigeria, where there are diverse opinions, cultures, and challenges, responsible journalism becomes even more critical.

Journalists have a unique responsibility to report the truth accurately, fairly, and without bias. They must verify the information before publishing or broadcasting it to avoid spreading misinformation or fake news. When journalists uphold ethical standards and adhere to professional codes of conduct, they build trust with their audience and contribute to a more informed society.

In a country like Nigeria, where there may be political tensions, security issues, or social inequalities, responsible journalism can help bridge divides, promote understanding, and foster dialogue. By highlighting issues that affect the public and giving voice to marginalized communities, journalists can bring about positive change and drive progress.

Furthermore, responsible journalism can also help combat corruption, promote good governance, and empower citizens to make informed decisions. By shining a light on wrongdoing and advocating for transparency, journalists can support efforts to build a more just and democratic society.

Reporters under the guise of investigative journalism have accused some personalities such as both former Inspector Generals of Police, Ibrahim Idris and Solomon Arase, of receiving N200 million each and a house allocation as incentives for awarding police estate development contracts to Copran International Limited.

Following the ensuing outburst of comments, reactions, and innuendoes that trailed the wrongful allegation, former Inspector General of Police, Dr. Arase has by a writ of summons dated 22nd day of March 2024 and filed 5th April 2024 instituted at the Federal Capital Territory High Court, a civil action in Suit No. CV/1937/2024 against Mr Nurudeen Akewushola, Victoria Bamas, Mr Dayo Aiyetan and Registered Trustees of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

The matter has been assigned to a court of competent jurisdiction for hearing.

It is important to be aware of the potential negative aspects of social media and take steps to protect ourselves and others from these risks.

The majority of cyberbullying happens online, where the perpetrators purposefully annoy or hurt the people they target by distributing a video or audio that contains false remarks about them. This is being done in an attempt to discredit them and damage their reputation.

Unfortunately, some traditional media outlets have gone above and beyond what is required of them, willingly serving as a weapon in the hands of anonymous bloggers to disseminate false information even at the expense of their reputations.

Indeed, the media is tasked with holding the government responsible according to the Nigerian constitution. The 1999 Constitution’s Section 22 declares: “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.”

To enhance journalism and reduce the spread of false information, media outlets must prioritise policy and constantly consider how their stories relate to the formulation and execution of public policy.

It is undeniably difficult to write a flawless story. A balanced plot requires planning, study, discipline, and forethought. However, when done correctly, there is complete victory.

The rise of social media has indeed presented new ethical challenges for journalism. With the instant and global reach of social media platforms, ensuring accuracy, fairness, and transparency in reporting has become even more crucial.

Journalists now face issues such as verifying user-generated content, combating misinformation and fake news, protecting sources’ identities, and maintaining privacy and consent when reporting on social media platforms. Journalists need to uphold ethical standards, adhere to professional codes of conduct, and constantly evaluate the impact of their work in the digital age.

By staying vigilant, remaining committed to ethical practices, and engaging with audiences responsibly, journalists can navigate these challenges and maintain trust and credibility in an increasingly complex media landscape.

This emphasizes the necessity of social media regulation to strike a balance between information freedom and access, as well as the rights of others to be safeguarded from abuse and the protection of society as a whole.

The legal system will eventually pursue individuals who enjoy causing harm to others in the name of social media freedom and journalism, regardless of the length of time it takes. While there is nothing wrong with social media freedom, using the medium carelessly to defame others is.

One option available to victims of defamation is to take legal action. Defamation has the potential to result in damages and legal ramifications, contingent on the case’s merits. A widespread absence of consequences for their conduct or inaction is one of the reasons why some media practitioners in Nigeria resort to defamation. The defendants bear the burden of proof in this case.

They must therefore provide proof that the defamatory imputation is substantially true to win the lawsuit and avoid legal repercussions. It will be simpler for the proverbial camel to go through the eye of the need than it will be for the defendant to elude the consequences of the law given the present lack of constraint.

Overall, responsible journalism is not just a professional obligation but a moral imperative. As a pillar of democracy, it serves the public interest and helps to create a more open, inclusive, and accountable society. In Nigeria, the need for responsible journalism is paramount in shaping a brighter future for all its citizens.

Adewole Kehinde is the publisher of Swift Reporters and can be reached at 08166240846. E-mail: kennyadewole@gmail.com

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