Combating Fake News: Lai Mohammed, Professionals, Proffer Solutions.
Guild of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria (GPBN) has held its inaugural lecture in Lagos on Monday.
The event with the theme: Combating fake news in the cyber space drew media professionals, professionals from the banking industry to the Radisson Blu Hotel , Ikeja, Lagos.
Special Guest of Honour at the event, and Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed assured the guild of the government’s efforts to fight fake news in Nigeria.
According to the minister, the media is the first victim of fake news
The Minister who was elated at the theme of the lecture said the theme was coming up at the very right time in Nigerian media history. “The theme is coming up at the very right time because the social media is at the centre of fake news in Nigeria and we must come together to fight it,” he said.
“We are ready to partner with you against fake news because the first victim of fake news is the media,” he told the guild, enjoining members to always verify their contents before publishing. “Before you share that information on Twitter, Facebook, Whatsaap, you should ask yourself what is the source, ask whether the information is true.”
President of the organsation, Chris Kehinde Nwandu explained reason for the lecture and enjoined participants to adopt the lessons to be learnt to enhance their profession.
Corporate Affairs Adviser of the Nigerian Breweries PLC, Kufre Ekanem, urged participants to always ensure responsibility, content and discretion. “The greatest ability as a blogger is the ability to maintain responsibility, right contents and discretion,” he said.
National Publicity Secretary of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan at the event told participants that the government of the day started the propagation of fake news in Nigeria.
Represented by his Personal Assistant, Mr. Richard Ihediwa, Ologbodiyan said, “Fake news has been before now but it only escalated with the activities of a particular political party.
“What we are seeing today is an offshoot of what transpired before the 2015 election and it has been misleading the media,” he said.
Head of Marketing at Diamond Bank, Chiamaka Udenze, talked about the socio-economic impact of blogging.
Udenze told participants that, “If fake news continues, and amplified and brings companies to their kneels, it can break bonds between clients and brands.
“Once the confidence is broken between brands and customers, everybody suffers because it affects so many things in the economy,” she said.
She however advised that corporate organisations should up their ante in this era of new media and bloggers should try as much as possible to be proactive because prevention is better than cure.
In her suggestion, she said corporate organisations should have media desks and have hotlines people can verify information from. “When you have hotlines, people can easily verify things. Engage services of media monitors,” she advised brands, recommending further that, media organisations especially bloggers should contact trusted media sources and attribute their sources.
Head, External Affairs, UBA PLC., Mr. Nasir Ramon Olanrewaju however relayed his experience as a victim of fake news.
“Fake news travels very fast and it affects followership of financial brands and has implications on profitability for an organisation and investors.
“It is our collective responsibility because fake news is toxic to businesses as it can lead to customers questioning the integrity of organisations which can lead to loss of trust in a brand,” he said, recommending that, “We should all adopt a digital mindset, we should own our news and we should not just leave it to other people. We should up our ante and cut across media platforms and work swiftly and engage people who are leaders in the profession.”
He also advised that, “Media professionals should adhere to media standards. If you adhere to media standards or professional standards, ethics is the way to go which is your regulation. We should stop supporting brands that fail in integrity tests and businesses would fold up when the boys are separated from the men.”
From the legal angle the last speaker, Managing Partner, Tech Advisors ICT Lawyers, Mr. Basil Udotai talked about self-regulation in the media landscape. He advised participants to manufacture contents using technology.
“Bloggers should not be scared because with forensic methods we can separate the wheat from the chaff,” he said, advising bloggers to embrace new skills because the global landscape has shifted from where it used to be.
In her recap, Chairman of the event Professor Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, Head of Mass Communication Department, University of Lagos enjoined bloggers to verify their contents before disseminating such.
Drawing the attention of participants to some of the lessons learnt at the event, Ogwezzy Ndisika reminded the audience that, “The first speaker talked about fake news as a hindrance Nigeria’s socio-economic development and said, “Most times we do it with sensational headlines and bogus figures,” she recapped.
She however advised the guild to “Look into media literacy as part of its social responsibility.”
In an acknowledgement letter issued on Tuesday appreciating the efforts of the Guild to stage its successful inaugural lecture on Monday, Mr Adrian Egonu thanked members ans supporters of the organisation for their committment.
“We thank God for the success of the inaugural lecture and unveiling of our Guild.
“We cannot thank everyone enough”.
Egonu further reiterated the need for members to be exemplanary in tbe profession.
“On behalf of the Ethics Committee, we hereby remind us about what we stand for and against as contained in our Executive Summary of who we are.
“We hope to make this available to all for our various blogs once we fine-tune… However, let us for now be guided by the principle of responsible blogging business and investigating our story sources for factuality and credibility… Equally, zero tolerance for plagiarism, blackmail and slander.
Brief About GPBN:
The GPBN was founded in 2016 as a group of progressive and professional Nigerian bloggers who practice both in Nigeria and in the diaspora.
The Group cuts across key professional players with common interest in writing such as Lawyers, Financial Experts, Motoring Experts, Celebs, Health, Education, Sports Analysts amongst others.
Our key vision is to be a veritable platform representing the interests of professional bloggers practicing within government and corporate bodies, as well as individuals with great vision.
The platform helps to regulate the activities of blogging among members by entrenching ethics, professionalism and integrity.
The body conducts regular and focused trainings and retraining of members on international best practices in blogging while also providing a central focal avenue for stakeholders wishing to interface or interact with professional bloggers in the country.
We have zero tolerance for fabrications and unhealthy news posts that can destroy integrity and responsible mass communication.
Any violator of this our collective code, faces automatic sanction(s) as deemed necessary.
Head, Ethics Committee.
October 16, 2018
Additional reports by Dayo Emmanuel, Adrian Egonu, CKN News.com, and LailasNews.com. Picture courtesy: FabBloggers.com