2023: EU, IPC Task Female Journalists On Impactful Electoral Process Reporting, Fact-checking
By Charity Uwakwe
As 2023 general elections draw nearer, the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EUSDGN II) project, in conjunction with the International Press Centre, IPC and Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, (NAWOJ), has charged female Journalists to be more accurate in discharging their watch dog roles particularly in the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
Speaking during a two-day Skill Enhancing and Capacity Building/Mentoring Session for Female Journalists on Monday. at Echelon Hotel, Port Harcourt, Rivers State’s capital, the Executive Director of IPC, Lagos-Nigeria, Mr. Lanre Arogundade emphasised the need for female Journalists to be catalysts in Nigeria’s democratic procesl
He disclosed that the workshop was geared towards strengthening the media for fair, accurate, ethical and inclusive coverage of electoral processes in Nigeria, pointing out that the Media must play it’s role as catalysts of credible elections “without which democracy cannot be consolidated”.
Mr. Arogundade who said that the two-day training workshop for participants drawn from the South-East, South-South and South-West regions of the country, was
designed to further enhance their skill on professional, impactful, inclusive and public interest reporting of the electoral processes and the 2023 elections.
According to the Director, the workshop is one of the activities being implemented by IPC, , the Institute for Media and Society (IMS) under Component 4:, Support to Media of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGNII) project.
“We are particularly happy that this workshop is being organised in partnership with the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), which underscores our joint commitment to building the capacity of female journalists so that they could be change agents in Nigeria’s democratic process.lt
“I wish to thank and commend the leadership of NAWOJ under President Ladi Bala for sharing our vision as it continues to strive to make journalism better for women journalists and women journalists better in journalism”.
In her admonition, the National President of NAWOJ Mrs. Ladi Bala enjoined the participants to downplay the quest for brown envelopes, noting that abstinence from same would help boost their efficiency in their reportage.
Mrs. Bala, while thanking the organisers of the event for extending their assistance to NAWOJ, urged the women folk of the Pen Industry to rise to the clarion call to strengthen democracy in Nigeria, particularly in the 2023 general election, pointing out that “Journalists have critical roles to play in fostering peace and unity during elections.
Mrs. Bala charged the members to focus mainly on the future of the Nigeria nation in the extant political dispensation, insisting “we should rather focus on ensuring a shift in the political narrative of the country.
“Think of the kind of stories you will write that can effect a change in the country. This usually goes with a reward and always document all your stories.
“Our reportage in this political season should not be ‘business as usual’. It should not be same old story. Do not allow them buy you over with brown envelope”, she advised.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Factual Accuracy And Combating Fake News: The Place Of Fact-checking And Data Use In Reporting Of 2023 Election’, Mrs. Moturayo Joel we charged participants to adequately fact-check every information they obtain before disseminating same to the public domain.
She defined fact-checking as the process of verifying information that already is in the public domain, thus ascertaining the accuracy of claims especially by political office holders.
On the importance of fact-checking, she explained that “people need access to accurate information in order to make well-formed decisions and advised that life threatening reports should be avoided
In another lecture titled: ‘Electoral Processes and 2023 Elections: According Priority To Issues Of Women and Other Underrepresented’ which was delivered Dr. Titi Osuagwu, a Senior Lecturer at University of Port Harcourt, she enjoined the participants to pay rapt attention to issues that pertain to women and unhesitantly report them.
Dr. Osuagwu in her passionate advocacy for the women folk, she pleaded with female Journalists to intensify the coverage of women and other under-represented groups in the Civic areas, especially in the course of the electoral processes.
Among the under-represented groups she outlined, are people with physical and psychosocial disabilities, the elderly, the youths, the refugees/immigrants;
Others are “people of low economic status, the internally displaced, young/first-time voters, the LGBT community, widows, HIV/AIDS community, the panhandlers (beggars) and people living in remote areas”.
She identified under-represented groups as people who are inadequately or insufficiently represented in a sector.
According to Osuagwu, the National Gender Policy prescribes 35% female representation, but however bemoaned the relegation of the women in the corridors of power, saying; “there is no female Governor yet, only 12 Deputy Governors so far and Only 7 female Ministers out of the 43.
Citing the National Youths Policy Organisation, she said only 1% of youths are represented in politics. For 2023 elections, only 389 females out of 4,259 contestants for Presidential and National Assembly seats Viz Senate-92 women out of 1,101: House of Rep. 288/3,122 (Source: WIPF,2022)”.
Moreover, the facilitator who maintained that the media could serve as a tool to strengthen democracy by providing opportunities for different stakeholders to air their views, lamented that, “the media sometimes, perpetuate prejudice and stereotype leading to exclusion of women and other marginalised groups in the electoral processes”, she alleged.
Corroborating, Mr. Taiwo Obe ( TO ) the founder of Journalism Clinic and one of the facilitators, in his teaching on: ‘Impactful Reporting Of Electoral Processes And 2023: Focusing On Issues And Telling Stories That Matter’, enjoined Journalists to focus on hard core evidence in their reportage, describing same as a grand rule in reporting especially political matters.
“Truth is the cornerstone of journalism and every journalist should strive diligently to ascertain the truth of every event”, he said.
He implored members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm “to develop the habit of knowing that this reporting is for the people”, he admonished, as he reminded that giving the people the right information would enhance their ability to make good decisions.
In addition, T. O insisted on the positive impacts of the Journalist assuming the condition of her evidence, stressing that “you can’t get investigative story without getting involved.”
T. O. further advised Journalists to act as catalysts to engendering change in the society, while emphasising the importance of engaging in participant observation.