Fake News: Online publishers task journalists on ‘self-regulation’

By Philip Shimnom Clement

Ahead of the forthcoming general elections, Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPA) have called on media organizations to examine news contents thoroughly before publishing.

President of the Association, Austyn Ogannah made the call at the third annual conference of the association in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said, “The aim of the conference is to invite practitioners in the new media whether bloggers or online journalists to discuss burning issues which is why this year’s theme is centered on elections.

“The 2019 elections is by the corner and we in the media are determined to report correctly and accurately so that government will also be aware that their activities are being held accountable” Ogannah explained

In the area of regulation, the President said, “the idea behind the association was to ‘self-regulate’ journalists attitudes toward reporting events. After the 2011 elections, there were no cases of fake news. Fake news became popular at about 3 years ago. So the association knew it will become more challenging when the social media space opens up with easy availability of internet access in Nigeria.”

The President added that the Association is still working on the parameter to commence sanctioning members to uphold professional conduct in their reportage.

Also, in his contributions, Samuel Ogundipe, a journalist with Premium Times urged the media to at all times hold government accountable which according to him, is the only way impact journalism can be achieved.

“Some of the government officials heading agencies sometimes are not aware of the irregularities happening in their organization, as such it is when we report that their attention is drawn so that they can fix the problem and ensure the public service prevails on the principles of good governance.

“As the 2019 elections approach, the online media is proliferated which is why we need to be accountable and professional in all our reports,” he added.