By Obeten Godfrey
The Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Cross River State council, Mr. Victor Udu has commended the efforts of online media practitioners in the state which has aided in the fast dissemination of information and the improvement of the democratic processes of governance.
Mr. Udu stated this on Sunday while speaking as a guest on ‘The Dialogue With Agba Jalingo’ aired live on Hit 95.9 FM in Calabar where he posited that the online media and digital journalism has also helped in checking excesses of government and that of public officials, which has helped to enforce cheques and balances in government.
“The online media has come to stay, and their role is very significance to democratic process, the digital media is doing a great job, but there is still room for improvement,” Mr. Udu said.
However, he frowned at the fact that the advent of the social media had made everyone a journalist but commended the Association of Cross River Online Journalists (ACROJ) for its commitment, passion and steadfastness in painstakingly reporting the state to the entire world.
He urged journalists to be truthful at all times in their reportage as credibility was key to objective journalism.
The topic of the discussion which was taken to mark the fifth year anniversary of CrossRiverWatch was: “Online Media and Democratic Processes,” and the Deputy Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Linus Obogo who was also a guest said that the online media has been positive in the discharge of its responsibilities as the advent of the digital media has brought convergence of participation and awareness to the citizenry.
“No matter how bad the online media is, we cannot do without them; they have come to stay. All we have to do is to synergize with them, and encourage interactivity in order to discharge our duties effectively,” said Mr. Obogo.
He lamented the influx of quacks into the digital space, a situation he said posed a major challenge to the profession and blamed it on lack of ethical standards.
“The online media has been invaded by quacks, this has made the digital media to be a panoply of voices, a cacophony of voices, as virtually everyone who owns a smart phone is now a journalist” he said.
He advocated for a law to curb the excesses of online journalism, just as it is in countries like Indonesia, Russia and China which will help regulate the activities of the online media.
But, is this problem endemic to only the online media?
The acting ACROJ chairman and founder of CalabarBlog, Mr. Hope Obeten disagreed. He said the issue of objectivity was a major issue but quickly added that it cuts across both the mainstream and online media.
Mr. Obeten said that the way forward was for journalists to learn the rudiments of effective news reporting so as to help reduce subjective news reportage in media houses.
“One of the challenges of the profession is the ability to report objectively, the issue of objectivity in news reporting cuts across the online and print media. Journalists need training and retraining so that they can understand the ethics and rudiments of objective journalism,” said Mr. Obeten.
He maintained that the digital media has helped a lot in engaging public office holders, making them accountable as well as informing the people of government policies and programs and stated that the state has become the most reported in Nigeria.
Also, he commended online journalists in the state for their drive and passion in the discharge of their duties, which has helped to give the state a face lift and wider coverage.
In a similar note, the Chairman of the Correspondent Chapel of the NUJ, Mr. Judex Okoro said the impact of the online media cannot be overemphasized but the basic editorial principles of truth, accuracy, objectivity, balance and fairness must be strictly adhered to.
He called for collaboration and urged online media practitioners to synergize with affiliate bodies to help them discharge their duties effectively.