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‘Ethics Should Form The Core Of The Media – TELL Editor
By Tosin Omoniyi
The editor-in-chief of TELL Magazine, Nigeria’s foremost political weekly, Ayo Akinkuotu, has urged journalists to continue to maintain high ethical standards despite the various operational challenges they face daily in the course of carrying out their duties.
He made this assertion when he delivered a keynote address titled ‘The Challenges of Ethics in the Nigerian Press,” during the opening session of an investigative reporting training in Abuja organised by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR.
Akinkuotu said that it was an undisputable fact that media practitioners face huge challenges on the field but was quick to add that this was not enough reason for journalists to compromise the standards of the profession.
He lamented the fact that the era the media undertaking serious investigative journalism was gradually being eroded on the altar of routine reportage of stories via the press release syndrome.
“When you read the headline of one story you have read all the other newspapers for the day. All journalists now face one direction. We no longer do investigative reporting and this is not good enough,’ the media chief said.
Akinkuotu said that the media profession still remains a noble and constitutionally backed profession even though many people try to deride it by saying that “journalists were unelected, self-appointed representatives of the people who have no constituency.”
He said this was all the more reason why journalists must observe the highest levels of ethical standards in their dealings with the public.
“Journalists must be above board. Our profession deals with morality and the division between evil and good. The input of ethical journalism in a growing democracy like ours cannot be overemphasized. And despite the seeming inconsistencies in our system, democracy is still the best option we have and the journalist has a central role to play in its sustenance,” Akinkuotu noted.
He said journalists were integral to the chequered history of the country and so had a stake in its future.
Earlier, the chairman of the opening ceremony of the training programme, Etim Anim, who is also the chairman of the board of trustees of the ICIR, asked journalists to continue to uphold the integrity of the profession.
Anim, a professor of Mass Communication at the Bingham University, Abuja, said the Nigerian system would eventually collapse unless the journalist continues to carry out its watchdog role and also strive to keep leaders accountable for their actions in governance issues.
His remarks were buttressed by the brief comments of a member of the board of ICIR, Adegboyega Arulogun who said journalists must be consistent in unravelling issues that border on the welfare of the citizens.
Arulogun, however, advised the trainees to seek God’s guidance and that of seasoned media practitioners and equally buy journalism books that can enhance their performance as investigative journalists.
The executive director, ICIR, Dayo Aiyetan, while welcoming the participants, said the essence of the training was to give the participants the needed tools that would enable them to be effective on the field.
He added that that was why the centre took its time to pick seasoned trainers from around the world for the three day programme..
Some of the instructors expected to handle different aspects of the training include Ron Nixon, an experienced media trainer with the Investigative Reporters & Editors, IRE, and the Washington correspondent of the New York Times, Anas Aremeyaro, a seasoned undercover journalist from Ghana and Aiyetan.
The training programme scheduled for May 19 to May 21 in Abuja is part of the Nigerian Investigative Reporting Project, NIRP, a reporting and publishing initiative funded by Ford Foundation.
This year, the programme has brought together 40 journalists from newsrooms across the country. Each participant would also be able to access small grants to undertake investigative projects.