26th June, 2018
A two-day election reporting workshop for journalists organised by the United States Consulate ended on Tuesday in Osogbo.
The training was part of efforts to ensure professional coverage and reportage of the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
Ms. Joan Mower, the Director of Training at the Voice of America (VOA), who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) after the programme , described the exercise as a success.
Mower said the workshop, which was attended by 25 participants drawn from the South-West region of the country, became imperative because of the pivotal role of journalism in elections and a thriving democracy.
She added that Nigeria’s democracy was also key to the future of the African region in which the country remained a key player.
“Moreover, the U.S. views Nigeria as its most important partner in the Sub-saharan Africa and so we have decided to train Nigerian journalists to further expose them to global best practices in the profession ahead of the 2019 general elections,” she said.
She expressed optimism that with the training, a higher standard of ethical practices in journalism would be upheld in the coverage of the general elections.
“We hope the journalists are now more exposed to issues that arise and present themselves in election coverage and are better able to overcome the challenges and come up with honest and balanced coverage of the elections,” he said.
A renowned professor of Mass Communication, Lai Oso, who was one of the facilitators at the workshop, told NAN that the capacity of the participants had been further enhanced.
“The participants have been better equipped to cover the 2019 general elections.
” We were able to identify and accept our shortcomings in the planning and coverage of previous elections and have now proffered solutions and are now ready to ensure professional reportage of the elections.
“Journalists would help to project local concerns by speaking more to the ordinary people and project their voices to enable them drive the agenda and make informed choices,” he said.
Oso who is a lecturer at the School of Communication, Lagos State University, Ojo, however, appealed to media organisation to further equip their reporters and not leave them to the manipulations of politicians.
He also urged politicians to play by the rules to ensure free and fair elections.
Mr Adewunmi Faniran, the Chairman of the Oyo State Council of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), who attended the workshop, commended the U.S Consulate for the initiative.
Faniran, who represented the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), told NAN that ” the participants are now more alive to their responsibilities in the coverage of elections.”
He also enjoined journalists to embrace the insurance scheme organised by the various councils of NUJ.
Earlier in her speech at the workshop, Ms Darcy Zotter, a Public Affairs Officer at the United States Consulate, had stressed the importance of Nigeria’s democracy to Africa.
Some of the topics discussed at the workshop included “ Ethics of Political Reporting,’’ “Planning for Effective Election Coverage,’’ “ Reporting Election Violence’’ and “ Tackling Fake News During Electoral Cycle.’’
The training, which targets a total of 100 journalists, had earlier been conducted in the South-South and South-East Zones and would end with training for journalists in the Lagos media hub between Thursday and Friday.