By Vincess Okushi

EVEN AS IT HINDERS ETHICAL STANDARDS OF REPORTING
The use of technology in the era of social media savvy especially, the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has continued to pose threats to critical fact-finding, making the journalism profession more difficult in troubling times.
This is because the media are at the receiving end, as it does little or no work in verifying the authenticity of every piece of information at its disposal before publication.
To address this trend, Global Rights Nigeria in partnership with Heinrich Boll Foundation organized a two-day Investigative training for Journalists Reporting in a Suppressive Environment. “Navigating the Ethics of Journalism in Strengthening Civic Freedom”.
Aimed at equipping them with the essential skills to uphold journalistic ethics, particularly in environments where civic freedoms are under pressure.
At the event, a media expert who is the Executive Director of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) Dayo Aiyetan said AI, fake news, and misinformation are products of technology and disruptive nature.
Adding that the media must at all times, be free to uphold the fundamental obligation to discharge its duties responsibly irrespective of these modern technologies, noting that balance and objectivity of any report is key to national development.
Dayo further urged the media to be proactive and go beyond press conferences to unearth the truths of public holders, saying they must investigate how resources are managed by politicians
“We need to be consistent. We need to ground our journalism in an understanding of this role, that our role is at all times will hold government officials and institutions to account  Whether elections are coming when our elections are being held, whether we see politicians rigging elections at whatever time is happening. Our goal is to make the government accountable so our role is to do our work ethically.
“There is always a temptation for us to step out of our role.
A minister says 1 billion Naira has been spent on building across the country, we must investigate how you spend them, and who are the contractors.
“We need to be conscious of talking about ethics and report with a sense of social responsibility.
“Let me tell you, you have a responsibility to tell the truth.
In whatever circumstance we find ourselves, our role as journalists is constant reporting that holds the government, its institutions, and officials to account, reporting that exposes wrongdoing and corruption in the public interest, and reporting that digs and uncovers scandal, courageous and bold reporting.”
Speaking on conflict-sensitive reporting, the ICIR Executive Director stressed that it is the responsibility of the media to unite the country with its narratives.
He counted media corruption, ownership, foreign relations, and lack of capacity, as factors limiting national interests, and harped on the need for accuracy, objectivity, and fairness to surmount media corruption for ethical reportage.
“The media should be like a unifying force, not a divisive force. So, at a time like this when the country is divided, you know, the last election was such a divisive moment in Nigeria.
“The media needs to step in. There’s conflict, and you’re getting it you are reporting in a manner that seems to be comfortable, responsible journalism. analytical reporting, which goes beyond merely reporting, which is what provides context and that’s also good so you’re not just saying the obvious but providing supportive context background and, of course, consider national interests.”
According to him, while doing the work ethically people or a nation’s reputation shouldn’t be destroyed as part of the ethics of social responsibility.
“So our work, our role is not to destroy people’s reputation. Even as we hold them to account. So whatever we do, must have a huge sense of social responsibility.
“Thinking of the larger social good and  self-regulation as an ethical way of reporting.”
The training is aimed at empowering journalists to understand their critical role in times of crisis and how to report responsibly on sensitive issues without compromising journalistic integrity.

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