President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed concern over the current resort by journalists to trade on what he called ‘fake news’ in the present upsurge of social media over the traditional investigative reporting thereby beclouding good journalism.
“In an environment where fake news dwarfs investigative reporting, good journalism matters. For survival in an increasingly competitive field, good journalism matters. Good journalism promotes Good Governance. I, therefore, urge participants to give depth to the topic in your discussions and conclusions.”
President Buhari spoke today, Thursday, at the opening of the 67th World Congress of International Press Institute (IPI) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
President Buhari observed that responsible journalism is a means to ensure good governance and democratic principles in the country, adding that the dynamics of the information age has shown that responsible journalism will naturally negate the promotion of hate speech including propagation of fake news in any discerning society.
“The changing media landscape, the explosion of the social media and the rapidly evolving new technology, have had a profound impact on media business and media practice. It is satisfying, therefore, that you have chosen an appropriate theme for your conference: Why Good Journalism Matters: Quality Media for Strong Societies.
“In a world where the borderline between hate speech and free speech has become blurred, good journalism matters.
The President narrated the effort of his administration to tackle insecurity in the country, saying that Boko Haram has been degraded as it no longer holds any territory in the country.
He assured that relative peace in the country made it possible for the IPI congress to take place in Abuja for the first time.
“Your annual congress is holding in Nigeria during a period of global terrorism. Nigeria experiences that scourge through Boko Haram, which has been technically degraded and has no territorial hold anywhere, anymore, in its northeast operational base. The Internally Displaced Persons are gradually returning to their communities in reasonable safety and security.
“It is a reflection of your assessment of Nigeria as a safe country that you gave the country the hosting right for this conference. As you have seen since your arrival, you made a wise and right choice.”
This was even as the IPI Executive Director, Barbara Triinfi, lamented that independent journalism is under attack as press freedom is being eroded around the world.
“As we gather here today from different countries to open IPI’s 67th World Congress, there is a sense that independent journalism is under attack and press freedom has eroded all over the world.
“From Mexico to the Philippines, from Zimbabwe to Turkey, from Russia to Ethiopia, journalists are being imprisoned. They are denied access to justice. They are threatened and insulted on social media. They are directly targeted and labeled as traitors and enemies of the state and they are killed, shot in front of their houses, on their way to work, by killers who know that murdering journalists is the easiest way to silence them and ensure that the stories of corruption they were investigating, the wrongdoings they had uncovered will never be revealed.
“At least 43 journalists have been killed so far in 2018 in places like Afghanistan, Mexico, India, Pakistan or the Philippines to mention a few.
“Also here in Nigeria, a country with a very lively news industry which enjoys a good degree of press freedom, safety has been a serious problem for journalists, not only those covering the areas where insurgents are active but also journalists covering corruption have been targeted.” [myad]