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Promoting Good Governance.

Journalists parley with CSOs on good governance — courtesy of the ICIR

Members of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and media practitioners have agreed to improve collaborations with one another in their efforts to promote social justice and good governance.

This agreement, among others, was contained in a communique issued at the end of a one-day round-table meeting on media and civil society organisations partnership for governance and accountability campaigns.

The round table, organised by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and supported by the Ford Foundation, brought together 34 participants from the media and civil society groups across West Africa to deliberate on how to create effective partnership and collaboration to promote governance and accountability.

The meeting identified some of the factors impeding effective collaboration between the media and the CSOs, such as the failure of CSOs to incorporate media into their project plans.

At the end of the deliberation, participants agreed that the CSOs needed to learn a lot about storytelling, so that they can engage the media and other stakeholders.

The campaign for partnership between media and CSOs, they emphasized, must be taken to editors, to also improve their understanding of the CSO sector and its operations.

At the end of the meeting, the following communiqué was issued:

The round table meeting on media and civil society organisations partnership for governance and accountability campaigns was organized by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting ICIR on Wednesday the 24th of January 2018 at the Best Western Starfire hotel, GRA Ikeja, Lagos.

The meeting brought together 34 participants from the media and civil society groups across Nigeria and West Africa to deliberate on how to create effective partnership and collaboration to promote governance and accountability issues in West Africa.

The objectives of the round table meeting were captured as follows:

• To promote effective collaboration and partnership between the media and civil society groups for governance and accountability campaigns.

• To understand the role of the media and CSOs in bringing about social justice and accountability.

• To see how the media and CSOs can work together

• To understand the challenges of effective partnership between media and CSOs.

• To chart a way forward on effective partnership and collaboration.

To achieve these objectives, the meeting had presentations that spoke on the essential roles of media and civil society in fostering social and accountability campaigns; and toolkit for effective media and CSO bonding. The presentation on essential roles of the media and CSO spoke elaborately on the constitutional role of the media as the watch dog and their responsibility to the people in bringing about transparency and good governance.

The roles of civil society in this regard were also highlighted. In summary it was stressed that both groups are working towards the same goal and that the civil society and the media can achieve much more to promote social justice and accountability when they work together than the sum total of their individual efforts.

Thereafter the meeting identified the challenges impeding media and CSO collaboration:

1. Media component is not incorporated into project plans of the CSOs to the extent that will foster mutual cooperation between the groups.
2. Some media often expect gratification or payments for publication of CSOs work, creating a difficulty for CSOs on how to engage some of the media without monetary influence.
3. Some of the media often use copy and paste method that is, word for word in their reporting, making media coverage across different media organisations monotonous.
4. Difficulty in convincing some of the CSOs that some of the media are genuinely interested in their work.
5. Media owners are suspicious and perceive CSOs as wanting to use their media outlets for advertorials or personal aggrandizement.
6. That some of those handling communications for CSOs do not have the necessary expertise in media relations.
7. Some CSOs often fail to explain to the media how they operate in terms of the grants they get from donors with the result that there is a wrong perception that the funds are available for them to use as they please.
8. Section 22 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution (as amended) gives the media sole responsibility of holding the government accountable and ensuring compliance with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy contained in chapter two of the constitution. Experience has demonstrated that the media cannot play this role alone without the help of the CSOs, using the judiciary to enforce such compliance.

WAY FORWARD
1. That CSOs need to learn a lot about story telling as a way to engage media specifically and other stakeholders in a general sense. CSOs and possibly the media also need to be trained on story telling.
2. It is important to include media practitioners in the activities of CSOs from the planning and execution of such programmes and make them partners as a way of creating a sense of ownership for them while also drawing from their expertise and experience in the development and implementation of such projects.
3. The campaign for partnership between Media and CSOs must be taken to editors to also improve their understanding of the CSO sector and how they operate as some editors also expect such stories to be paid for.
4. CSOs should recruit persons with communication and media backgrounds to handle their external communication.
5. CSOs in writing their news/ press releases should endeavour to use the essential techniques of news writing, thereby making it easy for the media to publish such stories and materials.
6. That the media and the CSOs should jointly fight for the amendment or total removal of section 6(6)(c) of the 1999 Nigerian constitution to enable the CSOs undertake litigation in appropriate cases to enforce compliance with the provisions of section 22 of the constitution.
7. CSOs should look at the media that work in areas of their interest and build partnerships with them to advance their common interests.
8. Partnerships should be built at institutional levels for specific campaigns and where that is not possible, more informal partnerships may be arranged.
9. That the CSOs should provide the media with contents that have news and information value for the media and are suitable for publication.
10. There is need for further and constant engagement between the two groups to enhance cordial relationship to promote governance and accountability issues.

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