A one-day workshop on investigative journalism in Umuahia has advised media professionals in the South-East to shift emphasis from routine and sensational reporting to investigative development journalism.
The workshop was organised by an Owerri-based media outfit, called Ikenga Media and Cultural Awareness Initiative (IMCAI).
It was sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation and supported by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ).
Uwaoma, who is an Associate Professor, spoke on the “Fundamentals of news investigative -checking”.
He said that it would profit society more if media professionals in the country would focus more on development communication.
“It is my opinion that journalism should shift from negative sensational reporting to development communication,” he said.
He, therefore, called for the establishment of more regional and community-based media outfits that should focus on community-development issues and human interest stories.
He further urged media professionals to concentrate efforts more on local issues that would have direct impact on the people’s wellbeing.
“We should strive to de-emphasise Arghanistanism – focusing on foreign issues at the expense of issues within our local environments,” he said.
He listed some of the challenges against investigative journalism to include insecurity, the lack of modern equipment, poor remuneration and lack of incentives.
Others, he said, were media influences, legal constrains and unfriendly sources, amongst others.
Also, a renowned journalist and former Secretary to the Abia Government, Mr Ralph Egbu, spoke on “Ethical issues: What kind of news is news.
Egbu said that the ethics of journalism centred on the dos and don’ts of the journalism profession.
According to him, ethical issues “deal with the dilenmas of right and wrong in the conduct of journalism practice.
He described the principle of objectivity, fairness, accuracy, balance, factual and truthful reporting as the hallmark of credible journalism.
Egbu further spoke on reward and gratification in the media, saying: “A journalist should neither solicit nor accept bribe, gratification, or patronage to supress or publish information.
“To demand payment for the publication of news is criminal to the notion of news as a fair, accurate, unbiased and factual report of an event.
He also highlighted major issues that could constitute the violation of ethics in journalism and the implications of such violation, including credibility loss.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Godfrey Ogbonna, spoke on “Safety first: Is the information worth the risk of news coverage – what are the red flags”.
Ogbonna advised journalists to take safety precautions anytime they planned to embark on investigative assignment.
“In the event that you are to accompany a security agency to the scene of a crime, ensure that you wear protective vest (bullet proof),” he said.
Ademola spoke on the need for collaborative media efforts to hold government accountable.
He urged media professionals to focus their investigations more on the state and local governments than the centre.
Earlier, the Coordinator and Editor-in-Chief of IMCAI, Dr Chido Onumah and Uche Ugboajah, respectively, said the primary objective of the platform was to project issues bordering on the development of South-East and holding the political leaders accountable.
“Our objective is to give voice to our people and publish stories that will help to promote accountability and development of the region.
“Our region is the most backward in terms of good governance.
“This is because we are not holding our governors and other political office holders accountable,” they said.
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