When stakeholders tasked citizens, journalists on information management

For proper information management in the society, stakeholders gathered recently in Awka to advise journalists and other citizens alike. OKECHUKWU ONUEGBU reports.

Stakeholders in Anambra state have tasked journalists especially bloggers and other New Media users on information management with a view to overcoming the inherent challenges of fake news and other anomalies.

Speaking at the maiden edition of Bloggers Summit, a programme held in Awka, the Anambra state capital by the state council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in partnership with Life International Hospital, Awka, the stakeholders who cut across traditional institutions, religious communities and communication scholars observed that disseminating unverified information could lead to crisis.

Need for caution

Delivering a lecture on the theme of the programme, ‘Managing Information Crises in the Era of Citizen Journalism’, Dr Chinelo Ude-Akpeh of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) Television College, Jos in Plateau state, observed that news reports by citizen journalists were usually unprofessional since they are not trained experts.

“In the same manner, the scope of the spread of such information from citizen journalists is limited to the few audience who are acquainted with the news makers as such citizen journalists naturally have limited listeners or audience. “Citizen journalism does not enjoy high confidence and reliability from the audience due to the effects of fake news. Majority of reasonable people struggle to believe most news from citizen journalists.

“Every human being on earth from all walks of life needs information to survive or make progress. One adage says that one would be deformed if ill-informed or misinformed. The government needs information to rule the citizens well.
“As important as information is to all and sundry, however, the way the information is managed is equally important because poor information management may lead to danger and might cause more harm than good.

“The need for good information management has become exigent when one considers the danger of misinformation especially during crises situations. It reveals that poor management of information is detrimental to individuals and society at large. It is therefore expedient for citizens to be aware of the dangers associated with information mismanagement to enable them to take informed decisions at any point in time regarding their information dissemination tendencies,” she noted.

Be careful with criticism

Also speaking, the national vice president of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Ichie Damian Okeke-Ogene, urged the media to be open to criticise and inform leaders of the country about the worsening state of the country without fear or favour.

Okeke-Ogene, explained that if the media help to reorientate the youths, it would be easier for the younger generation to take over the country from the old block and bad leaders especially in the 2023 general elections.

“If things continue like this, that means time may come when people would even go and exhume a buried corpse to come and contest election in this country. They keep saying that youths are the leaders of tomorrow; when would that tomorrow ever come? You must use your pen to disengage them because we don’t have the arms to do so, but you have your pens. The pen is mightier than the sword.

“I like the way you criticise, even though there may few junks among you. Always try to be objective in your criticisims. Always check and investigate well before publishing. Bloggers are usually freer because they and their addresses are not usually known, unlike the conventional media who are known and can be sued or sanctioned at anytime,” he added.

Use information to improve society

Contributing, the royal father of the day and traditional ruler of Umunya, Oyi local government area, Igwe Kris Onyekwuluje, advocated for information management which, according to him, would help to promote good course and agenda.
“Always verify information before reporting. We must use the social media to communicate information that would build the system rather than destroying the system. We must always try to verify and process every information at our disposal before publishing. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to our youths to please stop destroying their lives with crystal methamphitamine, ‘Mkpulummili’.
“This drugs can only destroy your lives and your future. You keep destroying your future with the intake and abuse of this killer drug. Today, many are seen roaming the streets mad, some in rehabilitation centres while some even dead. Too bad a situation!. For your own good and that of your family, please stop. I am equally appealing to the consciences of those selling the drugs to retrace their steps,” the monarch appealed.

Be accountable

On his part, the director, Department of State Service (DSS), Anambra state, Mr David Enoch Pawa, expressed concern over what he termed misinformation being peddled on the social and new media and urged information purveyors to be conscious of whatever they disseminate as they could be hold accountable to them.
Pawa, represented by deputy director, Mr John Ibienu, also observed that criminals were using the social media to unleash and promote selfish agenda, hate speech and tribalism.

Clear facts before publication

To the Anambra State Commissioner for Police, Mr Echeng Echeng, bloggers ought to always get clearance from relevant authorities involve in their stories before publication for balancing and objectivity.
Echeng, represented by the command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr Tochukwu Ikenga, also appealed to bloggers not to use their medium for activism, because according to him, some activists hide under social media to push false information to the public.
“Activists hide under social media to create problem in the society. When we are pushing out information on any crime, we must involve the agency in charge to have clearer information about the situation. There is a very big difference between social media and social activism,” he noted.

Need for objectivity

Earlier, the chairman, NUJ, Anambra State Council, Comrade Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, appealed to bloggers not to abandon objectivity while casting headlines to attract readers to their websites, adding that the training was organised to integrate, train and empower online or citizen journalists on the nitty-gritty of journalism profession with a view to make them more professionals and reliable.

The co-sponsor of the event and founder of Life International Hospital, Professor Joseph Ikechebelu, while speaking on assisted reproductive technology, urged the media to assist in disseminating information about assisted reproductive system, which he said has made it possible for all women to bear children irrespective of their social or health condition.

“We are in Anambra state to help our women to conceive and become mothers. With assisted reproductive technology, women can still have children despite their age, health or social condition. When you try conventional ways and it failed, you can go for assisted conception. You don’t need to send a woman away for not having a child or for not having a male or female child. God gave us the knowledge to turn your tears to joy,” he stated.