A professor of Mass Communications at the Bayero University, Kano, BUK, Umar-Faruk Jibril, has lamented that many Nigerian media outfits only care more about stories and the revenue they generate than the safety of their reporters while covering the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Jibril made the statement during a workshop organized by PRNigeria Centre for Public Relations and Investigative Journalism in collaboration with the Adamu Abubakar Gwarzo Foundation in Kano.
He lamented that journalists covering the pandemic in Nigeria are close to being endangered species professionally.
Mr Jibril added that most media organisations care more about stories and their revenue more than their reporters’ safety while covering the epidemic.
Professor Jibril, a former commissioner of information in Kano state stated this at a one-day workshop on “Ethical Journalism and Best Practices in the Time of COVID-19,” held at the PRNigeria Centre Kano on Tuesday.
“Apart from Doctors and paramedics, the Journalists are the most victim for COVID-19.
“The worst is that there is no health insurance for Journalists, but the media organizations insure their equipment, buildings and properties,” Professor Jibril said.
He, therefore, called on journalists to be conscious of their personal safety and keep track of the latest development while reporting the crisis.
Mr Jibril also charged them to report more statistics of journalists affected by the pandemic and the welfare of their families in order to bring the issues to light.
In the same vein, Dr. Sule Yau, a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication in BUK, and senior legislative aide to the Senator representing Kano Central presented a paper titled ‘Crisis Communication for COVID-19’.
According to him, passing communication messages in the time of crisis such as COVID-19 needs a strategic plan geared towards solving the issue which must be planned, adopted and evaluated for efficiency.
“You have to fashion out how the crisis is to be handled. When you have a strategic plan, you don’t stick to one aspect of communication because you are in crisis, depending on the circumstance and target audience.
“Sometimes you may use religious scholars, Friday sermons for instance, tricycle riders and any other means to reach your audience,” Mr Sule added.
The university don added that in times of crisis like this, communication should be centralised in order to avoid conflict of information.
He added that the problem with so many spokespersons in such a situation is having contradictions as people think differently.
On his part, an investigative journalist and associate editor with Premium Times online newspaper, Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, charged journalists to work in accordance with the basic principle of the profession and in line with the code of conduct of journalism practice.
While speaking ethical issues in investigative reporting, Mr Abdulaziz charged journalists to conform to the qualities of selflessness and integrity when writing their report.
He cautioned journalists to be careful in identifying story ideas and sources, adding that the world is now in the age of alternative facts, hence the need to go deeper by scratching beyond the surface for accuracy.
Earlier the Manager of PR centre, Adnan Mukhtar, called on the participants to put what they learnt into practice for the benefit of the society.
He said the centre gathered journalists from various media organizations and gave them the needed skills for understanding and adapting to issues of ethical concerns, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The manager promised that the centre would continue to hold such educational workshops in order to equip journalists with best practice of the profession.
In his remark, Musa Abdullahi Sufi, the technical adviser of the foundation, called on journalists to deploy their skills in going beyond normal reportage.
“Look at local issues, things that contribute to the spread of the virus, domestic and sexual violence, massive pregnancy cases, just name them,” he said.