Salihu Shola Taofeek is the Chief Executive Officer of the Informant247 online newspaper. In this interview, he speaks on a wide range of issues, including media ethics, reportage of war against terrorism, tribal crises, communal clashes, religious bigotry, insensitivity in the media space, and building a peaceful nation through balanced reportage amongst others.
Can we meet you? I am the founder of The Informant247 Online Newspaper. I obtained my first degree from Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, after which I proceeded to the International Institute of Journalism for my postgraduate degree. I have a Digital journalism certification from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, an SMF certificate on investigative journalism and many other certifications. How can the media maintain the ethics of journalism in the era of fake news and the influx of sensational stories? In this era of the influx of social media posts, every media organization must maintain the ethics of journalism. They must not derail the established laws and ethics that guide fair, credible and accurate reportage. What all of these media outfits need to do is to ensure that they verify their news sources before reporting any story. They should not rely solely on what they see on social media. They must take the appropriate investigation channel, research and due consultation from the required authorities before reporting any story. Any news medium must maintain credibility and reliability and ensure its reportage is balanced and accurate. Online news media should not shy away from this professionalism and ethics. They must not be so quick to report unverified news in the name of wanting to be timely. Traditional news media use the ‘Agenda setting theory’ to disseminate news, and online newspapers should be known of that too. They can act as gatekeepers and filter whatever news that would be going out of their platforms. A very common on social media giants, online newspapers need to do more in combating fake news, online abuses, online bullying, racism, tribalism, religious jingoism and others. All the media must ensure they maintain the ethics of the profession. Media organizations must also be wary of what they report. Some reports are better unreported than being reported and causing violence among tribes or groups of people in the country. Any report that could incite terror and violence should be avoided. What roles can media play in the battle against insecurity? Like other reportage, issues relating to insecurity should be prioritised. Whatever issues may concern the public should not be ignored. Therefore, whenever any media reports insecurity issues such as kidnapping, or banditry, it must ensure its reports are clamouring for equity, fairness and justice. No part of the group should be favoured. It is better to wait for a security brief on any issue of insecurity before reporting. The media are supposed to work hand in hand with security agencies to have accurate information at their disposal. Editorials can be written on insecurity. At least these would serve as a compass for the government and security personnel in fighting the insurgencies. When writing editorials, the writer should try as much as possible to proffer workable solutions to help security architects carry out their duties. The media should always write to highlight some of what affects the security forces, such as their welfare package, procurement of weapons and so on. They are saddled with the responsibility of calling the attention of the government and the international community to where human rights are being violated. How can the government help the media in achieving freedom while reporting? The government has a role to play in this aspect. It must provide a suitable and enabling environment for media organizations to thrive. They need to allow the regulatory bodies to perform their duties without putting huge pressure on media establishments,s, especially privately owned media. Also, the government must ensure the Freedom Of Information, FOI bill is passed into law. If this is done, it will allow journalists access to public documents that could help them do a nice report without twisting the facts. Journalists should be able to report whatever news, irrespective of who is involved, without fear or favour.
This article was originally published on Naija News