A growing number of media outfits is endorsing the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage (Revised edition 2018), which underlines a common chord in the industry for self-regulation and checking of excesses during coverage of elections.
The Code will be launched in Abuja on Friday June 22, 2018 as part of the activities of the World Congress of the International Press Institute (IPI).
A statement by the Director of International Press Centre (IPC), Lanre Arogundade, indicated that about 80 media outfits, including the Business Eye Magazine, had so far endorsed the Code including professional groups and associations, the broadcast media, newspapers, online news mediums and support groups.
The Code, a revised edition of the 2014/2015 Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage, was recently validated by media stakeholders.
Arogundade said the Code had been endorsed by the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Radio Television And Theatre Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU) and Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP).
He said it was encouraging that prominent media establishments that have so far endorsed include, Channels Television, AIT, RAYPOWER Radio, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)and the following newspapers: Vanguard, ThisDay, Daily Trust, The Guardian, The Sun, Leadership, The Nation, Premium Times, The Cable, Eagle News, Business Eye magazine and The News Magazine.
Arogundade also said it was gratifying that 55 members of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) who publish Online have endorsed the Code as well as the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) and the Association of Communication Scholars & Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN).
Media support groups promoting media development, independence and professionalism that have endorsed the Code include, the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Institute for Media and Society (IMS), and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalists (PTCIJ).
Others are, Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalists (WSCIJ), Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER), Network for Media Excellence, Journalism Clinic, Media Career Development Centre (MCDC), Diamond Media Awards for Excellence (DAME) the Journalism Clinic and Media Law Centre.
Arogundade expressed hope that the number of organisations endorsing the Code would increase before the public launch and presentation next week.
“We are particularly elated at the kind of responses we are getting from many media organisations that have either endorsed or expressed interest in endorsing the Code”, he said.
Essentially the Code provides guidelines for the ethical conduct of journalists and their respective organisations in the coverage of elections. This obligation according to the Code “entails the performance of oversight, public education, open forum and conflict management roles by the media during elections”.
The Code also says in its preamble that the “effective performance of these important roles requires the observance of the highest standards of professionalism, maximum compliance with regulatory frameworks and deference to the public good and interest”.
It therefore says that “it is desirable to have a set of guidelines that regulates the professional and ethical conduct of the media and journalists during elections” and enjoins practitioners that “compliance with the guidelines will contribute to the conduct of credible elections and corresponding social order”
Among others, the Code provides for a section to regulate Hate Speech and other forms of incitement which according to it, “could lead to violence and threaten the democratic fabric of a society”.
“The social obligations of the media during elections therefore include the prevention of hate speech”, it says.
Arogundade stated that the revision, publication and dissemination of the Code is one of the activities being undertaken by IPC under Component 4b: Support to the media of the EU Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) project, which seeks to build a professional media as catalysts of democratic accountability, credible elections and good governance.
He hinted that 20,000 copies of the updated code shall be produced and disseminated to journalists for use ahead of the 2019 general elections.