By Jonathan Ugbal and Maxwell Effiong
In a bid to entrench professionalism amongst media practitioners who ply their trade with the aid of the internet, the management of Arthur Jarvis University (AJU) and the Association of Cross River Online Journalists (ACROJ) have signed a memorandum of understanding to kick off the Institute of Online Journalism (IOJ) in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
The Varsity’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Ani Nkang said the institution which currently runs over three dozen courses since it’s inception in 2017 was elated when ACROJ proposed the institute as the school believes in giving students and the public, a wide array of choices.
“Outside the core academic programs, we have tried to ensure that our students are exposed to other professional programs and industries as they case may be and we have consultancy programs (to cater for that).
“We were pleased when we got your letter, the Association of Cross River Online Journalists to kick start a program in the area of journalism which by God’s grace, we have ended developing with your cooperation, the curriculum for certificate and diploma programs,” he said.
For ACROJ Chairman, Comrade Edem Darlington, there is more to explore. “We will drive this process to ensure that we don’t just get students from Cross River but we also get students from outside, in fact, everywhere across the country, we can do it, we have the capacity,” Edem said.
Edem who disclosed that ACROJ is partnering with Media outfits especially radio stations in the State to aid in publicity and staff training, added that; “I assure you that this (partnership) is going to be a huge success not just about journalism because we feel that this is a stepping stone, we will relate and collaborate in other areas”.
Journalism has evolved with emerging technologies and challenges that have bedeviled mankind, and, Dr. Ebri Willie, who is the Dean, Faculty of Humanities, Management and Social Sciences where the Institute is domiciled told journalists after the ceremony that misinformation and disinformation had plagued the world alongside the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed optimism that this was a right step to combat that.
“Awareness is education and with what is happening concerning the (COVID-19) pandemic, it will not be well if we don’t have proper information about the pandemic and the best tool to apply here is journalism. Journalism covers all spheres of life and giving COVID-19 the right publicity, making the right information known to the people, means that you are trying to nudge the people towards recovery which is a commensurate effort,” Ebri said.
And, with fake news, misinformation and yellow journalism been on the front burner amidst attacks on the journalism profession over what should constitute the social responsibility theory of journalism, the Secretary of ACROJ, Comrade Archibong Jeremiah said the Institute is designed to tackle such.
“If journalists-in-training do not get first hand information on indices of fact checking, then it will be difficult for them to rule out all the negative elements when they are fact checking,” Archibong said.
He posited that the current crash programs on fact checking every claim and information journalists currently receive are not enough, hence the need to inculcate investigative reporting and fact checking to the curriculum which according to him, was the edge the IOJ has over others since the internet was fast becoming the traditional means of communicating with media outlets exploring more means of reaching out.
“This program is going to give attention to all these issues because the curriculum (of the IOJ) is designed in such a way to ensure that the real life scenarios comes to the classroom,” he said.
The Institute will be hosted at the Varsity’s consultancy center along Marian road in Calabar.
See pictures below.
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