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2019 elections and the media, By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu

By News Express on 16/02/2019

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 •Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
•Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu

Media partisanship is one of the 14 risk factors recently identified by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) threatening the smooth conduct of the elections. A medium of mass communication could be accused of partisanship when in the discharge of its duties it fails to give equal opportunities to the parties involved.

Current events in Nigeria which centre on the activities of transition to another democratic dispensation have exposed the bias of some media houses against some political parties, both in the country in general and states in particular. Abia State is a good example. Some media houses are openly biased against some political parties at the expense of others who receive substantial favour form them. The media, as the watch-dog of the society and the 14th estate of realm, do not have a particular constituency but should view all parties as their constituency. This should guide every activity of the media. These unprofessional conducts displayed by some media men have gravely jeopardised some ethical obligations of the media, such as balance and objectivity.

The media are obliged by the ethical obligation of balance to give fair hearing to all parties involved without equal consideration to the opposite party.

Akin to balance is another critical ethical issue of the media which is “objectivity.” Objectivity requires that the reporter depersonalises the story. By depersonalising the story the reporter is expected to detach him or herself from the story, by not imputing personal opinions, but reporting the story as it is.

Although it is always argued that journalists are humans who are naturally bound to express some sentiments and emotions, the advice here is that even such emotions and sentiments should come to play, they should not be obvious.

Because of what was termed the inadequacy of the old concept of objectivity, the new concept of objectivity was given birth to which requires “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” This requires the reporter to stretch a bit by engaging in an in-depth writing, which entails conducting interviews where necessary, doing some analyses and research.

The argument here is that limiting the story to sources from interested parties may affect the objectivity, because the interested parties may not be objective in their versions, so the need for impartial parties arises.

It is highly worrisome that some media houses (and analysts, too) in Abia have jettisoned professionalism to pursue parochial interest by not according the contestants equal opportunities.

One basic truth we should bear at the back of our minds is that electioneering periods will come and go, but professionalism remains and should not be sacrificed at the altar of pecuniary interest.

•Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu, a public policy analyst, writes from Aba, via

Source News Express

Posted 16/02/2019 05:32:11 AM





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