Some media experts on Thursday in Ibadan urged the Nigerian media to be patriotic and professional in reporting activities of extremists and terrorists.

The professionals, who made the call at a two-day workshop, stressed that the call was necessary to change the narrative because terrorists did not deserve publicity.

The workshop has as its theme, “The Role of the Media in Combatting Violent Extremism and Terrorism in Nigeria.”

Dr Raphael Abimbola of the Department of Mass Communications, Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo State, said that terrorist groups had exploited the media for maximum attainment of their goal.

He, therefore, charged the media to tread with caution in order not to aid terrorism.

Delivering a paper on “The Role of the Media in Countering Terrorism”, Abimbola said there was a symbiotic relationship between the media and terrorism.

“Sadly enough, both the media and terrorist groups need one another.

“While the media feast on terrorist activities as sources of news, no thanks to the newsworthiness of conflict and wars; terrorist groups depend on the media for publicity.

“By reporting on terrorist attacks, the media play a part in conveying terrorist messages to a large audience,” he said.

According to him, on a global scale, the media has been advised to tread the path of caution in reporting terrorism.

He urged the media to develop through their professional organisations, a code of conduct for journalists, photographers and editors dealing with terrorist acts and threats.

Abimbola said that with patriotism, training, balance and fairness, and intelligence for security agencies, the media could help in the fight against terrorism.

“Nothing can better unite, advance and develop a country than patriotism by its citizens including the media.

“For the Nigerian media to help in countering terrorism, it has to imbibe the Nigerian spirit and identify with the dreams, goals and aspirations of the nation.

“Editors and news managers should note that any instability in the system affects the smooth running of the media as well.

“Nigerian media should continue to report terrorist attacks but select the stories that unite and assure the citizens of the national effort in combating terrorism,

“De-emphasise and if possible exclude those that magnify or reinforce the successes of terrorist groups in the country,” he said.

Dr Bisi Olawuyi of the Department of Language and Communication Arts, University of Ibadan, called on the media to change the narratives of the terrorists by providing alternative and counter narratives.

“Can we possibly have a new journalistic model that addresses the emerging and contemporary challenges facing our nation?

“We have responsibility in our hands. The media  should not be agents of division. We will keep reporting them, but emphasis must change,” Olawuyi said.

Also, Mrs Olufunke Fadugba, former Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council said that the media’s power should not be used to promote extremism, hatred and conflicts in the society.

Speaking on the “Challenge of the media in reporting terrorism”, Fadugba, said that the media should not be in the rush to break any story that could bring the country into fire.

Fadugba added that the constitution should give the mass media practitioners the needed protection to perform their role in combatting insecurity.

She urged media owners to put the interest of the nation above business, saying the media should not be “unconscious accomplices” to vent the goal of terrorism.

Fadugba said: “We should re-introduce orientation programmes in the newsroom. We should serve the overall interest of the public in the course of performing our corporate responsibility.

“I want to emphatically stress that media owners, professional groups, media associations should periodically profile their practitioners.

“This is to sift out those that have crossed the line of media practice into being spies, propagators and sympathisers of extremism and terrorism.”

The workshop was organised by the Lagos Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists and the Nigerian Press Council, in collaboration with Forte and Henz Ltd.

By Editor

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