BY PATIENCE IVIE IHEJIRIKA, ROYAL IBEH |
The Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) has called for training of journalists for effective and science-based reporting of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guild made the call during the ongoing one week NAPHARM and NGE virtual meeting with the theme: “COVID-19 Facts, Myths and Way Forward.”
Speaking at the meeting yesterday, co-chairman of the committee, Mr Azu Ishiekwene, recalled that at the initial stage of the pandemic about a year ago, the media was in the forefront in terms of issues like social distancing, and whether people were wearing their mask or not, and so on.
“We found out that the more we cover this social attitude towards the pandemic, the more people respond to it,” he said.
Ishiekwene, who spoke on the role of the media in the management of COVID-19, also shared a study that was done in Australia, which showed that whenever media reports were positive, there was a correlation in the attitude of the people that adopted the vaccine, but when there was a negative report, there was also a negative response, in terms of adoption of the vaccine.
He, therefore, urged journalists to train themselves on how to report the pandemic. Kinsley Uranta, from Channels Television, said the media has to dig deeper and be more creative in such a way that it will continue to sustain information in the public space.
He said the media must find a creative way to bring vaccine to the forefront. “So, I think that we have a long way to go, both the electronic and print media. We have a challenge with the social media that we have to counter what is going on out there,’’ he said.
“We have fake news, unverified news flying out there, while most Nigerians would take everything they see on social media, the electronic and print media have the responsibility to counter the fake news with news based on facts and can be verified.
“So I urge the media not to go to sleep, because we have a lot of work to do,” he said.
Managing director, the Eagle Online, Mr Dotun Oladipo, recommended the use of social media to help counter fake news. He also suggested that they use real life situation of people who have taken the vaccine and those who have died for not taking the vaccine, saying this would go a long way in boosting the confidence in getting the vaccine.
President of NAPHARM, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, identified the media as a tool for advocacy, and has the capacity to frame public opinion, hence the reason for the collaboration.
He said, “This partnership is not a one off, as there are many issues to be addressed.
“Scientists at the Pharmaceutical industry are ready to give the media science based content, to enable the media dish out the right information to the public.”