Publishers and media owners in Nigeria have been called to invest in capacity building for practicing journalists to fact-check stories, counter hate speech and reduce tension in the political space.
An advocacy group, Search for Common Ground (SCG) in Nigeria made the call on Wednesday during an online forum tagged: “The Media and Peaceful Elections: Effective Strategies for Monitoring and Mitigating Hate Speech” ahead of Anambra guber poll.
The group also urged proprietors of media houses as well as government at all levels to prioritise journalists’ welfare.
Founder, Policy Shapers and a panelist on the forum, Ebenezer Wikina regretted increasing cases of journalists being used as tools for the promotion of hate speech in the society.
He said the situation was worsened by the Brown envelope syndrome with its attendants negative effects on journalism practice in the country.
He said, “The media needs to ensure that while informing, educating, entertaining and setting agenda for public discourse, it does not encourage or promote hate speech that causes conflict or violence in the society.
“This is why we urge media owners to invest in capacity building for journalists to fact-check stories to mitigate hate speeches, misinformation and disinformation.
“Staff motivation will also go a long way to checkmating the menace of brown envelope syndrome, fake news and hate speech among practicing journalists in Nigeria.”
Presenting the SCG Hate Speech monthly report, Ms Fatima Sadiq said the group tracked lots of hateful comments relating to elections using TalkWalker technology on social media.
She lamented that most of the inciting comments were more on the social media platforms, which she noted were capable of causing conflicts along ethnic lines if not checked
“On our part, we decided to share peace message on social media as well as the consequences of hate speech to deter culprits,” she said.
Also speaking, Media Coordinator, SCG,
Mr Perry Tukuwei underscored the place of integrity, balance, fact-checking, fairness and objectivity in writing news stories among journalists.
“During elections, in Nigeria, journalists are been used to advance the interest of certain political class and sometimes cause hatred and incite violence in the society.
“Journalists have a duty to verify the claims to educate and enlighten the public appropriately. This will help counter hate speech, misinformation and disinformation,” he added.