Promoting media professionalism. UNDP courts online publishers

Feb 16, 2015

Participants at the one day dialogue with online media publishers on peaceful elections (Photo: UNDP Nigeria)

As Nigeria prepares for the 2015 General Elections scheduled for 28th March, UNDP facilitated a dialogue with online publishers as part of efforts aimed at promoting peaceful elections in the country.

The dialogue which took place on 10th February, came at a time when Nigeria’s political parties are increasingly using non-traditional media platforms and tools to campaign and engage with the general public.  

This move towards cyber-mediated engagement has been fuelled by the growing realization that a huge percentage of Nigerians are online and are actively engaging on issues in the democratic space.

Nigeria is currently ranked 8th on the global internet engagement scale with more than 73 million people that actively engage the internet. Noting that majority of online social media users are youths, it is important that engagements with them on these platform promote peace and constructive dialogue on development issues affecting the country.  

UNDP, through its Democratic Governance for Development (DGD II) project  initiated this  dialogue with publishers of on-line news media to advocate for increased professionalism in their reporting and commitment to support aimed at ensuring that the forthcoming election are held in a peaceful environment.

Participants at the meeting acknowledged the opportunities that social media presented in deepening democracy in the country as more and more people get online and get connected on social networks-engaging with each other on various issues affecting them and their communities. Dapo Olorunyomi Publisher of Premium Times, however, pointed out the challenges that have come with the growing influence of social media especially in the absence of a common set of ethics that should guide online social media users and the power to produce content now lies in the hands of individuals and not media houses as before.   

 “What degree of responsibility or norms will be in demand from a platform of delivery that is based on social media? “With the advent of the citizen journalists as news gatherers, how do we take care of critical concerns about sourcing, authenticity and, above all, fairness? “What happens to verification in the wake of the now relaxed editing standards that come with digital first via social media and twitter in particular?” he asked. 

Stella Jibrin, from Nigeria Press Council (IPC), noted with concern the growing tendancy by online punlishers to promote hate speech calling for appropriate steps to be taken to ensure credible, fair and ethical reporting by online publishers.    

Participants at the dialogue from 25 of Nigeria’s top online media publishers delibrated on a number of issues, including peer-monitoring and the need to formulate strict and strong professional, ethical and accountability principles as well as the need to provide support through trainings and professional resources to stem the tide against using the online media to promote hate speech and other unethical tendencies.  

The initiative was supported by DGD II, a-joint-donor funded project managed by UNDP in support of deepening democracy in Nigeria. The DGD II project is funded with contributions from the European Union (EU), UKAid, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) and UNDP. The project provides technical and financial support to INEC, civil society organizations and institutions such as, the Media, National Assembly, and political parties as a means of strengthening accountable and responsive governance institutions and consolidating democratic governance in line with international best practices.  

Mr.

Lucky Musonda    
Email: lucky.musonda@undp.org

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