Media practitioners have been asked to make the 2023 General Election reporting and credible.
Mr. Abu Michael, Editor in Chief and Publisher, The Nigerian Post Newspaper, gave the charge at a presentation at the 2022 Projector Newspaper Annual Lecture and Award, described the 2023 as one that would be made or mar by media reporting if the media did not bring in professionalism to bear.
Speaking on the topic: ” Media Role in the 2023 general election” said the media should employ the conduct her activities with a deep sense of responsibility, commitment and tact while reporting the 2023 general election.
Mr. Abu described the media as a powerful tool for good, as well as in protecting the rights of citizens to information, said the flip side of the benefits of what the media can offer where lack of professionalism, objectivity and impartiality is not applied, can plunge the nations into turmoil as the experienced in Rwanda (1994) and Kenya (2007).
Mr. Abu described the media as the mirror of society, a reflection of truth and despondence of the masses, to whom its objectivity and loyalty should serve, urged the media to report only public interest without subjecting it to any form of proprietorship.
While pointing out that the media in Nigeria has surely come a long way and has played massive economic, social and political roles in the life of Nigerians, thereby laying the grounds for the emergence of a united, stable, prosperous and strong nation, Mr. Abu urged media practitioners to continue to serve as the cornerstone of democracy, by playing indispensable role and as watchdog of the 2023 democratic process before, during and after the elections.
While pointing out that without the media, safeguarding the credibility and transparency of the electoral process would be a difficult task, added that a free and objective media can foster transparency by disseminating important electoral information, cautioned that a stifled or compromised media is capable of undermining the electoral process, ultimately weakening democracy.
The Editor in Chief specifically saddled the media with the responsibility of Educating voters on how to exercise their democratic rights; Reporting on election campaigns; Providing a platform for political parties and candidates to communicate their messages to the electorates.
He equally tasked the media on providing a platform for public feedback, concerns, opinions and to allow political parties and candidates to debate with each other;
He further tasked the media to report results and monitor vote counting; scrutinize the electoral process itself, including electoral management, in order to evaluate the fairness of the process, its efficiency and its probity;
He charged the media in providing information in manner devoid of inflammatory language, and helping to prevent election-related violence, disclosed that elections are not just about the right to vote, knowledge of the voting process, information about political parties, candidates and their programmes are also crucial.
He urged the media to avail voters with adequate information about the electoral process and informed analyses on policies, political parties and their candidates, to enable the citizens make informed choices, stating that the media have the duty to subject the electoral process to scrutiny and to provide public education on the activities of the EMB and other electoral stakeholders, in order to hold them to account.
The task of the media, especially national media outlets Mr Abu explained is not and should not be to function as a mouthpiece for any government body or particular candidate, said it basic role is to enlighten and educate the public and act as a neutral, objective platform for free debate of all points of view.
While noting that it is possible that the 2023 General Elections would be one of the most intense media-focused events in our political history, with stakeholders likely to rely heavily on media, as well as on the New Social Media, combating hate speech, fake news and other forms of reporting likely to inflame passion and trigger crisis will be of critical importance to the peaceful conduct of the elections.
Mr. Abu described objectivity as the core principle of journalism practice, urged the media to detach themselves from the information so as to maintain a high level of fairness and balance in giving an accurate account of happenings.