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2023: Umeh cautions journalists on election reportage

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Ahead of 2023 general election coverage, the Labour Party Candidate for Anambra Central Senatorial District, Senator Victor Umeh, have enjoined Journalists across the country, to be cautious and mindful of what they will write and report during the election proper.

He also advised journalists to be cautious of strategies politicians use to attain election victory.

Umeh gave the advice while speaking at a one day capacity building workshop on safety and security reporting, held at the Godwin Ezeemo international press center Awka, on Wednesday.

The workshop organised by Anambra State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), which attracted veteran journalists and security experts and media practitioners, was themed; “Media Safety In Election Coverage And Disaster Management.”

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While addressing participants, Umeh commended the leadership of NUJ for finding it necessary to organize the training workshop for its members in the state.

“It is very good to prepare for the unforseen and how to handle challenges when they come. It is only through training and re-training that one get better equipped to deal with challenges confronting their profession and career. Everyone is becoming conscious of the dangers in reporting and that’s why this workshop is important as we approach the general election.

“Media practitioners are people who are exposed to occupational hazards, risk and dangers because their duty is guarded by ethics. Journalist help to form and guild public opinions and must be sure that any information they are putting out is the truth and credible,” he said.

According to him, politicians use strategy and logic against their political opponents in their campaigns to sell themselves in every election, thus, media practitioners also, have to play along by being strategic in delivering their social responsibilities.

“Journalists, media practitioners need to be extra careful of politicians’ strategy/logic of attack of their opponents in order to win elections. In the process of selling themselves, politicians might attack and tell falsehood against their opponents. So, it behooves on media practitioners to stick to media logic of social responsibility, ethics and values.

“Accuracy and objectivity are key words. Journalists should be responsible for mobilising information that would better shape the society, encourage tolerance and diversity and not that which would escalate already battered security challenges or lead to war.

“Journalists must cover and report the 2023 election in a way that guarantees the security of the country as well as their safety. They can do this if they are able to commit to, and strengthen the ethics of professionalism in the practice of journalism.

“Partisanship exposes journalists to danger. So, they should detach themselves from taking sides in every matter. They should promote reliable journalism and be socially responsible. They should say no to incitement against one another. No to rumour. Endeavour to conquer that temptation to be partisan and avoid demonising language in your news stories.”

He described journalists as vital to success of elections in any egalitarian society, charging them to play professional roles expected of them to avert breach of peace, fact check, objective and neutral in their reportage before, during and after the general elections.

Umeh use the event to call on the state council of NUJ to organise election debate for all candidates contesting the 2023 election in the state.

Earlier, NUJ Chairman Anambra state council, Dr. Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, in his address, said the training is very necessary so as to learn from experts and professionals and also prepare Journalist ahead of the coming general election in order to improve in there reportage.

The Chairman tasked the electoral umpire and security agencies in Anambra State to prioritize safety of journalists as endangered species, just as he advised politicians to tread softly and not to play do or die politics so as to ensure crisis-free poll.

He added that security agencies should prioritize safety of journalists and their families during  this period of electioneering campaign and the voting proper.

On her part, the NUJ training committee chairperson, Comrade Ukpe Ewa emphasized on the importance of the training.

She said “As we move closer to 2023, the critical role of Journalist in the conduct and promotion of peaceful electoral processes in Nigeria is key and must not be handled carelessly. Journalists must rise to the occasion of protecting and strengthening Nigerians democracy through fair, accurate, ethical and inclusive coverage of the electoral process.

The State Commissioner of Police Mr. Echeng Echeng in his speech, during the event commended NUJ for the working emphasizing that it’s a step in the right direction.

Echeng who was represented by the PPRO, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga said the police has already started training in preparation for the coming 2023 general election and workshop has already been held in Owerri and Enugu. He commended the participants for showing the willingness to learn. He urged Journalist to be mindful of there style of reporting stating that news man has the potential to save or destroy the society.

He urged journalists to be mindful of unfriendly messages they received in the course of their duties.

In their separate speeches, ED Pawa, the state director, Department of State Service (DSS). DCC Yakubu Alada, representing NSCDC Anambra state commandant, Barrister Joseph Okochi, Executive Assistant to Governor Chukwuma Soludo, Hon. Ebuka Tochukwu (representing Nonso Okoye SSA on cyber security), veteran journalist Sir. Tony Nezianya, while commending the Anambra NUJ  leadership, the organising committee and participants, encourage journalists to always be mindful of the ethics of the profession, stating that the public holds newsmen in high esteem and as such demands truthful reportage.