Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Nigeria : NGO Trains Reporters on Conflict-Sensitive Reportage in Digital Age

By Abdullahi Alhassan

The media landscape is said to have evolved significantly from offline to online platforms,

Chief of Party at Peace Action for Rapid and Transformative Nigerian Early Warning Response, (PARTNER), Danjuma Dawop made the assertion at a one-day training on Conflict-Sensitive Reporting workshop for media practitioners held in Kaduna.

Traditionally, he said, journalists sourced information by directly engaging with participants, subjects, or individuals but there is a paradigm shift caused by digital media, which has deeply impacted the profession.

He emphasized that the unregulated digital media space allows anyone to disseminate news items, leading to widespread belief and action based on often unverified information.

“In the past, people trusted journalists and esteemed the media as a source of reliable, verifiable news. But now, with social media, everyone can claim to be a journalist.

The lack of regulation in social media makes it challenging for genuine journalists striving to share accurate information,” he remarked.

On the workshop’s theme, “Digital Peace-building Approach,” Dawop emphasized the necessity of a robust risk assessment framework. Such a framework, he argued, empowers local actors,social media platforms, and international partners to anticipate and prevent potential harm resulting from the interaction between digital platforms and offline conflict dynamics.

“We believe it’s crucial for media practitioners to understand the impact of social media on journalism and peace-building. Journalists serve as agents of peace, and through social media, they can disseminate information fostering unity among communities,” Dawop stressed.

He further highlighted the role of journalists in mitigating the adverse effects of social media, portraying them as the ultimate source of information for the common populace.

“Media outlets have the platform to educate and provide clarity, particularly on peace and conflict issues. They can analyze conflicts, present various perspectives, highlight needs and interests, and inform people about the underlying issues,” he added.

Dawop outlined key elements of the risk framework, including sources of risk facilitating social media weaponization, intergroup conflicts, governance failures, and socioeconomic frustrations.

Expressing concern about the abundance of unverified news content circulating, Dawop noted the challenge faced by journalists when individuals seek verification of trending social media information, of which they may not be aware.

Steve Agbo, Coordinator of the PARTNER project at the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Abuja, emphasized that the workshop targeted peace journalists in Kaduna state.

He underscored the project’s objective of fostering sustainable peace in Nigeria, particularly in the nine intervention states, supported by USAID to enhance the Early Warning Early Response (EWER) system in the North-Central and North-West regions.

Mr, Agbo stressed the vital role of journalists in disseminating accurate information about the PARTNER project across targeted regions and ensuring the incorporation of “Do No Harm” and conflict-sensitive reporting practices.

The consortium of PARTNER includes the West African Network for Peace-building (WANEP), Kaduna State Peace Commission (KSPC),Network of Peace Journalists, (NPJ) Plateau Peace Building Agency (PPBA), Mambayya House (Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Studies), and The Kukah Centre. The intervention areas span nine states: Benue, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Kogi,Niger, Nasarawa, Plateau, and Zamfara.

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