By: Joy Gadani
As Nigeria prepares for the forthcoming general elections, Editors have been tasked on the need to disseminate balanced, credible and quality information before, during and after the elections towards promoting peaceful coexistence. This was the spotlight at the Africa Media Development Foundation’s (AMDF) Editors’ Workroom.
The meeting which took place on 7th February, at the AMDF training room, Kaduna North West Nigeria focused on the process of electoral coverage and the responsibility of Editors in publishing quality information to the electorates and the entire public before, during, and after the elections.
A veteran journalist and Managing Editor of the Africa Prime News, Mr. Joseph Edegbo, said “the workroom will help broaden the journalist’s knowledge on principles guiding election and the role he is expected to play”. He reminded participants to “maintain the principle of fairness, accuracy, and balance, and should encourage their reporters to do same”.
Edegbo said the editor is the information gatekeeper and as such should insist on disseminating information that only promotes peaceful conduct especially at this period of election. He therefore encouraged editors to “ensure adherence to election guidelines on reporting and the law against hate speech or comments with potentials to instigate violence against a person or group”.
The Executive Director of the AMDF, Mr. Iliya Kure said “there are certain things, or information an editor cannot control in either the print or broadcast media, however, editors with individual online news platform should prioritize quality information through self censorship”.
Kure also shared some safety tips to be observed by journalists during coverage of the forth coming elections, he said the reporter should: “have basic knowledge of the local laws, and be well informed about what political, religious, or possible conflict groups that exist within his area of coverage”.
“Make sure to settle all personal matters at home before leaving for a potentially stressful assignment so as to have a clearer mind and avoid being in a bad mood that may cause any form of outburst.
Wear comfortable, neutral clothing and footwear that is not associated with a political party, and place your press card where it is easily accessible, like clothe pocket. Avoid the use of attractive news gathering gadgets in order to avoid attack by hoodlums or theft.
They should also: Practice daily stress management and anxiety techniques to help reduce stress. Do not be seen being too friendly with security personnel; if you find yourself in the middle of a disturbance, remain calm and avoid running as people running are often seen as targets.
Journalists should install emergency/SOS button apps, as well as put emergency contacts in their speed dial.
Schedule debriefs with editors, solidarity groups, and a counselor, it is important for your mental health to be taken care of during and after assignments. Editors should be sympathetic to their reporters when they try to share their experiences.
Avoid traveling alone, always inform your colleague, editor, and family about where you are going and make sure they track your movement by constantly keeping in touch through the journey.
The coordinator of AMDF, Mrs. Sekyen Dadik also advised editors to share the lessons learnt at the programme with their reporters at their various organizations, as it will go a long way in saving journalists from going through unnecessary troubles in the discharge of their duties during the elections.
She also said the Editors Workroom will be a quarterly programme, and will serve as a platform for editors to share ideas and experience in order to promote the practice of journalism in Africa.