Fake News: Media Institute, Journalists Brainstorm on Voter Education, Fake News, Inclusive Election Coverage


*Shocked at Absence of Staff In-House Training, No Budget for Election Duty or Equipment

From Ngozi Omah, Awka
Oct 11,2021

THE Institute for Media and Society (IMS) has cautioned journalists and other media stakeholders on the issue of fake news in the country, especially while covering the fast approaching Nov 6,2021 Anambra Governorship election.

The new malaise which has been defined as sharing or dissemination of deliberate distorted, fabricated, false, and fake information amongst others, according to the one-day Media engagement and training by the IMS in conjunction with the International Press Centre(IPC) implementing partners of Component 4, Support to Media under the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria(EU-SDGN) Project held in Awka can be tackled through some established indicators.

The event which had about fifty (50) media stakeholders from the print, online and broadcast media, including those in the academia in Anambra and some neighboring states had a theme -“Towards Professional and Inclusive Reporting of the 2021 Anambra State Governorship Election”.

The engagement was segmented in sessions handled and moderated by different resource persons.

The first session which had two presentations -‘Understanding and using the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage’, by Mr Arogundade of IPC and ‘Issues from statutory regulatory oversight’ by Dr. Akingbulu of IMS.

The second session, on inclusion in elections, featured Zoom presentations by Mr Jake Epelle President of The Albino Foundation, who spoke on ‘disability inclusion issues’ as well as Mrs. Miriam Menkiti,
Executive Director, Women Information Network (WINET) spoke on ‘Women in Politics’.
The session also had a complementing presentation by Mrs. Franklyn Onyekachi of NAWOJ on ‘gender inclusion and inclusive reporting’.

The third session by Dr Akin Akingbulu dwelt on “Observations and lessons from Media Content Monitoring in Recent Elections in Nigeria through a power point presentation while Mr. Sanmi Falobi, Programme
Manager of IPC dealt with ‘findings from IPC print/online media monitoring’.

While the fourth session, entitled ‘Dealing with fake news and fact checking in Anambra elections’ was handled by Mr. Arogundade via a power point presentation.
The fifth session was a plenary/interactive session on ‘Professional Media Coverage and Deepening Voter Education in the Anambra State election’ which dovetailed into the final session featuring questions and general comments.

OBSERVATIONS:

During the media engagement, participants made the following key observations:
*A plural and vibrant media landscape exists in Anambra State, with potential to handle professional coverage of the governorship election.
*The outcome of media content monitoring across the country in recent national elections which indicate inadequate attention to the issues of women, persons with disability (PWDs) and rural areas, makes inclusion an area of concern on the coverage of the electoral process.
*The atmosphere in Anambra State ahead the election remains relatively peaceful. However, in view of past experiences on the conflictual nature of the campaign and election day phases of the electoral cycle in Nigeria, there must be high readiness for stakeholders, including the media, to carry out appropriate roles to deal with the potentials for violence.

*The incidence of fake news and hate speech has constituted a challenge in relevant elections and political communication in general.
It will be important to note and deal with these twin demons in the coming Anambra election.

*The election management body, INEC, has reported challenges to its facilities in the recent past and addressing these challenges is imperative.

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