LAGOS – A former Governor of Ogun State, Segun Osoba has tasked online publishers to always get their reports right even while trying to break the news.
Osoba spoke on Friday as chairman of the second annual conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, GOCOP, held at the Sheraton Hotel in Lagos.
Represented by Lanre Idowu, the Executive Director of Diamond Award for Media Excellence, the former governor stressed the need for GOCOP to sanitise the social media platform being used to promote hate speech.
He admitted that online media has come to stay, regretting however, that many Nigerians are abusing it, manifesting in the shape of fake news and unverified information.
Osoba posited that all such negative aspects of the social media threaten the integrity of the online medium.
His words, “It is good to get the news first but it is certainly better to get it right.
 “I want to stress that online journalism has come to stay.
“It is this abuse manifested in the shape of fake news, unverified information and the inclination for mischief and blackmail by some bloggers that threatens the integrity of the online medium.
 “It is a global concern that you need to continuously look into. How can we reduce the proclivity for this errant behaviour?
“How much training and retraining can you put together for your members and other online practitioners to ensure we do not allow the menace to grow?
“I am aware your association is made up of responsible journalists but all it takes for your reputation to be sullied is a handful of the deviant people, who have other objectives for their presence in the public sphere.
“Whilst I will be looking forward to the outcome of your deliberations, I note that when the subjects of discourse touch the economy, credible elections and security of our country, there is no doubt that there is a lot to chew upon.
“Precipitate publications on the economy without appropriate contextual analysis are not the forte of responsible journalism.
“Naked partisanship that downplays the views and positions of some candidates so as to promote our biases is not the way to build credibility for our news organisations or the electoral process.”
Osoba stressed that the media have a major role to play as impartial arbiters that should present the issues, the candidates and their positions on these issues in a way that helps the public to make sense out of the contending views.
“Your association should drum this point into the hearing of your members for if there is a medium that has the greatest potential to stoke conflict through precipitate and unverified information, it is the online media.
“In a country with still a large population of the uneducated, we must be careful not to unwittingly stoke violent conflicts, stunt economic development and imperil the future of our people.
“I urge you to remain apostles of good journalism where facts remain sacred and informed commentary is free.”
Speakers at the #GOCOPConference2018 were former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Prof Chidi Odinkalu, Prof Ralph Akinfeleye and Prof Shilgba.
The theme of this year’s conference is: Online Publishers’ Role Towards A Sustainable Economy, Credible Election And Security In Nigeria.