Ahead of upcoming key elections in Central and West African regions, journalists have been called upon to take steps to address the issue of hate speech and also maintain ethical standards which is fast eroding in the media today.
Journalists at two separate workshop/training held in Doula,Cameroon and in Abuja,Nigeria, organised by the Federation of African Journalists, FAC and Ethical Journalism Network, EJN in collaboration with the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ agreed that hate speech, fake news and abusive exploitation of information technology are endangering pluralism, democracy and the defence of human rights.
The workshop, which brought together over 80 journalists from the UK,West and Central Africa, editors, industry regulators and educators, reaffirmed that ethical journalism is the key to bringing the kind of information that democracy needs to survive and thrive.
African media professionals were also called upon to support the continental campaign :’Turning The Page of Hate’ to expose, isolate and eliminate all forms of incitement to intense hatred and violence.
Participants welcomed the timely nature of the event and called on the EJN and FAJ to work with media groups to create election reporting guidelines and hate speech glossaries ahead of the elections in Cameroon, DR Congo, The Gambia, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Togo and elsewhere in the region.
The workshop also put forward a programme to improve ethics, good governance and self-regulation; fight corruption in the newsroom; strengthen reporting of terrorism and violent extremism.
President of NUJ who also doubles as the president of FAJ, Abdulwaheed Odusile in remarks said the workshop had enlightened members and equipped them with useful resources and information to help them uphold the ethics and standards of the media profession.
“We look forward to engaging in further activities with the EJN in order to improve conflict sensitive reporting and election coverage,”Odusile said.
In his own remarks,Chris Elliott, Board Member of the EJN and a veteran journalist in the United Kingdom with over 40 years experience in the pen profession, said it was a privilege to meet and learn from so many journalists dedicated to spreading the practice of ethical journalism in their daily work, especially at such a critical time when elections are in the offing in many countries.
“Their acute insight into the problems facing news organisations in the region and the practical solutions our colleagues offered was profoundly encouraging”, he stated.