• Hails NASONP for championing positive change

The Nigeria Police Force PRO, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi has tasked media professionals and security officers to deal decisively with the menace of false information, fake news and cyber threats as it have capacity to destroy ‘not only our national security but also our social cohesion, political stability, and economic development’. He added that ‘Unchecked fake news and online threats can have disastrous effects on our society, eroding confidence, igniting violence, and inhibiting societal progress’.

Adejobi gave this charge in his keynote address at the National Online Security News Publishers, NAOSNP Media Workshop which held last week in Lagos.

Noting that ‘the emergence of social media platforms and the ease with which information can be shared have accelerated the spread of false information. These platforms frequently place a higher value on engagement and virality than on the truthfulness of the content, providing an ideal environment for the dissemination of false information. Confirmation bias, the urge for clickbait, and sensationalism all contribute to drawing attention and raising the possibility of spreading erroneous information.’

While hailing NAOSNP for championing positive change, the Police PR expert who was represented by SP Benjamin Hundeyin, PPRO Lagos Command urged the frontline security beat association and other media professionals to engage in ‘verification and fact-checking; promoting media literacy; transparency and corrections; responsible reporting; collaboration and sharing best practices’ as urgent roles that Nigerian media must play in combating fake news in the society.

For security agencies, Adejobi noted that ‘detection and investigation; prevention and mitigation; and public awareness and education’ are vital roles that the Nigeria Police and other security agencies must play in destroying the menace of fake news, cyber threats, and security challenges before they destroy us.

In the same vein, the Founder of JournalismNG, Oba Adeoye said that there is a need for collaboration between the media and security agencies to mitigate the threats of false information, fake news, and cyber threats so as to ensure the safety and security of Nigerians. These issues are capable of inciting violence, misinformation during emergencies, public health risks, security threats, threat to social stability, preservation of democracy, and economic development.

He warned media professionals to beware of sharing fake news, sensationalizing stories, or adding personal biases to stories. ‘Fake news can have a significant impact on the credibility of the media. When false information is published or broadcast by a media organization, it can undermine the trust that the public has in that organization. This can lead to a loss of credibility, which can have long-term consequences.’

Recalling the infamous Rwandan genocide and the recent Overcomers parish in Ajah, Lagos saga, the media Consultant, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, Dr. Kunle Hamilton said that ‘the primary aim of the promoters and publishers of fake news is to instigate acts of violence, chaos and disunity among peoples. Fake news often courts hate speeches.’

He identified eight features that journalists must pay attention to so as to address fake news. These are ‘satire or parody, misleading content, imposter content, manipulated content, fabricated content, rush to press, no journalism training, and photocopy publishing.’

The panel discussion at the media workshop featured CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, Force PRO (Keynote Speaker) as represented by SP Benjamin Hundeyin, Police PRO Lagos Command; Dr. Kunle Hamilton, Media Consultant, FrieslandCampina WAMCO; Dr. Cynthia Greg, MD, Safety Signatures; Supt. Route Commander Olabisi Sonusi, Public Education Officer, FRSC Lagos Sector Command; Mr. Damilare Adewusi from Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA); Mr. Matthew Obiazikwor, Head, Communications and Brand Management, Unity Bank Plc; and Mrs Titilayo Ogunluyi, Deputy Commander, NDLEA Lagos Command.

Mr. Matthew Obiazikwor, Head, Communications and Brand Management, Unity Bank Plc encouraged media practitioners to undergo training and retraining in order to get better on the job. ‘I want you to understand media laws. I don’t know how much conversant we are with media laws and the legal environment of our practice. That is why I suggest that we go back to take some media and mass communication courses which will make you to be able to do much more and be impactful in how you do your work.

Urging journalists to verify news before going to press or posting online, Dr. Cynthia Greg, MD, Safety Signatures said: ‘I am bemused about the pedestrian way that media is being handled today. For people like us who studied media arts in the university about 25 years ago, we would understand the importance of investigative journalism. So when we rush to press or media, we want to shatter the table or to be seen as the first to break the news, we want to remember that there is still the role of investigative journalism in every content that you churn out in the media.’

DCN Titilayo Ogunluyi, Deputy Commander, NDLEA Lagos Command pleaded with the media sector to support the efforts of the agency to reduce the menace of narcotic use in Nigeria. ‘By creating awareness you will help us to remove barriers to seeking help in rehabilitation centres and therapies. Cure doesn’t come cheap that is why we advocate prevention.’

Speaking with journalists shortly after the media workshop, the President of NAOSNP, Oki Samson admonished practitioners to avoid rushing to the press without verifying information as he recalled a recent case of fake news which spread about AIG Hakeem Odumosu being appointed as EFCC Chairman. ‘When my colleague sent me a message about former AIG Hakeem Odumosu, the first thing I did was to send it to some platforms to authenticate it. In case you cannot reach the person directly, kindly find a way to verify information at your disposal rather than rushing to the press.’ He added that ‘this is the second workshop organized by NAOSNP. The first one was in 2022 where over 125 practitioners were in attendance while the 2023 one was attended by over 208 practitioners from print, online and electronic media.’


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