Ex-UN director advocates professionalism in media practice | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ex-UN director advocates professionalism in media practice

Posted: Apr 9, 2015 at 6:01 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Tunde Opeseitan –  Snr Correspondent, Lagos


Former United Nations Population Fund Regional Director for Africa, Bunmi Makinwa has advocated strict adherence to ethical policy by media practitioners and professionalism in media practice as a way of deepening democracy in Nigeria.

Makinwa, who stated this at a two-day workshop organized by the Media Scholars Network (MSN) in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to train journalists on election coverage, stressed that it was clear that fair and balanced coverage of elections were too important to be left to accidental or occasional reviews of reflections, hence the need to embrace professionalism.

The two-day workshop, which took place at the Conference Centre of the University of Lagos, was with the theme: “Reporting Elections: Sustaining Best Practices.”

Makinwa pointed out that the issue of fair and balanced coverage should be major steps of electioneering and democracy, adding that such should now be part of national engineering and re-engineering of the country.

He added: “Just as it was done in South Africa and Kenya, the media space should be managed with utmost attention and from all sectors of society – Government (the three arms of Executive, Legislature and Judiciary), Civil Society, Private Sector and Faith-oriented bodies. The media itself has a major responsibility in self management, monitoring responsible and accountable reporting with special emphasis on elections.

“It is important to have a three-pronged approach: Underwriting and encouraging professionalism in the media; building civil and official media support organizations; and having a robust legal arbitration and ombudsperson environment on media and elections.”

Earlier, MSN Convener, Professor Ayo Olukotun, said the workshop was a follow up to an earlier one conducted at the University of Ibadan, adding that the workshop was basically aimed at bringing journalists and stakeholders in the information enterprise together from time to time to review their craft with the view to determining whether they are maintaining or falling short of best practices.

Olukotun, who is a professor of International Relations at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, stated that media reportage had been identified as the genesis of several incidents of election-related violence in Africa, hence the need to constantly train journalists on best practices.

“Indeed, globally, the role of the media in election coverage is an issue that has generated debate and controversy at scholarly and polemical levels. It is not for nothing that observer groups monitoring elections in developing democracies have constantly fingered the lack of media level playing field at election seasons as an obstacle to free and fair elections as to democratic consolidation.”