‘Be fair, balanced and objective in reporting sensitive conflicts’

ActionAid Country Director, Ojobo AtulukuMedia practitioners have been charged to be fair, balanced and objective in reporting conflict issues in Nigeria
Participants at a two-day media programme organised by ActionAid, Nigeria’s SARVE Project, made the call in Akwanga, Nasarawa State.
The theme of the programme was: “Media training on conflict sensitive reporting for journalists in Kogi State.

They urged journalist and talk show hosts to be mindful of the pitfalls in the interest of peace and unity.
A communiqué issued after the training urged media practitioners to expand their scope in news reporting to properly frame the issues for a balanced coverage to avoid taking stories out of context.
They maintained that journalists must be sensitive to peace building process in their reportage and programs, even as they should give priority to women and children in their reportage.
The participants challenged newsmen on the need to place premium on facts in their reportage, rather than value, and advised them to de-emphasise the promotion of hate speeches in their reports.
According to the communiqué, it is important for newsmen to avoid recounting the bitter experience of traumatised survivors, and ensure that they are dispassionate when interviewing such survivors.
They advised journalists to be conscious of their safety in the process of covering conflict, adding that they should take time out to seek professional assistance if traumatized in the process of reporting.

The communiqué further advised journalists to adhere strictly to ethical standards and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) code of practice.
This, they, said should be done by not allowing themselves to be manipulated by actors in a conflict situation.
It maintained that journalists must not allow their perception and opinions to affect their reports on conflicts, but ensure that their reports are tilted towards promoting peace and harmonious co-existence.
“In order to achieve lasting peace, reporters should equally desist from the use of languages that reinforces traumatic experiences of survivors and be wary of the impact of promoting violence that could impact negatively on their audience or readers.
“Journalists must also be fair to all parties by always ensuring that the voice of everyone in a conflict situation is heard in their programmes and reports,” they advised.
They implored them to also be wary of the tone and pictures used in their reportage in order not to aggravate the conflicts.
The participants caution media owners and managers to adequately equip their organisations and provide necessary tools and incentives to enhance the productivity of reporters in that regard.

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