In his key note address, the chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in Port Harcourt, Stanley Job Stanley said false information has often times triggered conflict in the nation. He added that the traditional reporter has a responsibility to report the truth and project equality.
As a Rotarian and a practicing journalists, the former commissioner for information, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, talked about good reportorial and what it is not.
“A good journalists know that there are no bear facts. People can use the media to insite conflict”. She said. Therefore, a good reporter must be impartial.
Speaking at the workshop, chief Robinson Tambari Sibe, a key note speaker used analogies to describe the role of the journalist in conflict reporting. He described the journalist as a formula one car. “The role of the journalist is like a spark plug. You have tremendous reach and mileage just like a formula one car, but the same reach could be your downfall-any single mistake could ignite conflict” he said.
While speaking on the emotions and sentiments of the reporter, another speaker, Pastor Bekee Anyalewechi advised journalists to report all sides of the story, eliminating sentiments and emotions and trying to detach themselves from emotional reportorial. “Balance and professionalism and ethics,should take the place of emotions and sentiments”. He said.
In an answer to the question, “is peace possible” Mr. Celestine Ogolo, former General Manager, news paper corporation Rivers State said ” conflict is like poverty. It is continuous. It lives with us. It cannot be eradicated”. He also told journalists to be careful how they use words that can in site conflict. That no story is worth the blood of a reporter. Therefore, the reporter must understand the background of the conflict before reporting.
Speaking on peace reporting during the second plenary section, Blessing Olomu of Wazobia FM, said what the journalists reports and the choice of words used in that report is what promotes peace or creates conflict.
“Peace is very long process. Counter hate speech and identify conflict on time”.
As a keynote speaker, Mrs Ibim Seminitary speaking on the security of the journalist, emphasised the fact that “no story is worth the blood of a journalist”.
“Raising the bar on safety, no story is worth your blood. Be careful how far you push the black mail envelope”.
In keeping safe, truth is, “you’re a small reporter, you’re the sacrificial lamb. Don’t go for any story that you haven’t gotten a proper brief. Cover all grounds and have a backup”. She said.
Other speakers stressed the need for reporters to be fair, accurate, concise and balanced in their reportage as custodians of peace in a time of conflict, bearing in mind that the medium is the message.