Journalists have been advised to uphold the ethics of their profession in the discharge of their duties to the citizens and the nation at large.
The admonition was given at a one-day workshop organized by Catholic Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria (CAMPAN) and the Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN) held at the Veritas University, Bwari, Abuja.
The workshop, with the ‘”Theme: Peace Building and Promotion of Religious Tolerance”’, focussed on the importance of peace in nation-building and agreed that religious tolerance and harmony lead to peaceful co-existence.
The media practitioners are also urged to de-emphasize the use of ethnic differences and rise above factors that can lead to divisiveness in their reports and advised to be circumspect on reports they published about their country.
The Acting Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Professor Armstrong Idachaba, in his paper entitled; ‘Media As A Tool for Social Change, Cohesion and Development’, said Nigeria media has always been a tool for political development and which the politicians use to achieve political gains.
The NBC DG said it is the responsibility of the media to forge right of unity and de-emphasize ethnic differences but rather be a force to unify the people and the society.
Idachaba said while good journalism builds social change, cohesion and national development, bad journalism leads to the breakdown of law and order.
“The media should always set a common progressive agenda and not one that will divide the country. No media should promote offensive reportage that can incite violence and division, must not be seen promoting or inciting provocative broadcast but rather promote decent transmissions of social content for the moral upbringing of the future generations.
” Media should report and broadcast what is professionally acceptable at all times to engender peace and harmony in the country,” Idachaba, a professor of Mass Communication said.
Speaking on the same topic, a former Editor-in-Chief of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Alli Hakeem, said lack of cohesion and the failure to speak with one voice has led to fragmentation the country is witnessing today.
He said the media should embrace the new ethos that will “take us back to what existed in the past”.
The former NAN Chief said the media is not for extremists and naysayers to achieve their agenda but to report issues positively and forge cohesion and unity among the citizens.
He said the media should be circumspect about what they publish about the country while adding that media reports must be accurate, objective, truthful, fair and balanced.
Also, a former Editor at Media Trust Limited, Hajia Aisha Umaru Yusuf, National Director Communications, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Revd. Father Mike Umoh and the President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Revd. Dr Samson Ayorinde in their separate papers agreed that journalists must be at the forefront of promoting religious and peaceful co-existence in the country.
They said journalists should be agents of progress and stability and must not be seen taking sides but must be neutral, fair and accurate through their news items, contents and reportage.
According to them, mankind is one irrespective of colour, religious, political and social beliefs.
In their remarks, CAMPAN and MMPN Presidents, Mr Patrick Osu and Alhaji Abdur Rahman Balogun respectively said the workshop was organized to promote interaction between Muslim and Christian Media practitioners and to call on politicians and those in the position of authority to fulfil their electoral promises.
Delegates at the workshop were from Kwara, Borno Benue, Lagos states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.