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Shun Misinformation and Disinformation To Ensure Credibility of Electoral Information – IPC Tells Journalists

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The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria, has on Tuesday, 24th of January, 2023 hosted a stakeholders’ roundtable in Abuja at which it presented the findings from its on-going media monitoring of coverage of elections.

The Executive Director IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, said the media monitoring is one of the activities being implemented by IPC and Institute for Media and Society under an EU funded project with the theme: ‘Strengthening the media for fair, accurate, ethical, and inclusive coverage of the electoral processes and elections in Nigeria.’

He further stated that the scope of the activities under the project include improving the capability of journalists to give issue focused, factually accurate and conflict-sensitive reporting of elections and the use of media engagements on countering disinformation and misinformation and these are designed to ensure that journalists and their news media apply ethics, professionalism and inclusivity in their work

In addition to promoting democratic elections, the analysis of the media monitoring report of the 2023 elections is pivotal in determining the extent to which the elections can be said to be inclusive, Arogundade said.

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In presenting the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage (Revised Edition 2022), he unveils that some of the provisions were amended and or improved with the code now emphasizing the avoidance of disinformation and misinformation to ensure the credibility of electoral information.

He urged the government, INEC, Political parties and the Civil Society Organisations to create an enabling environment for the media to perform its functions during election’s coverage and reportage.

Lanre noted that the monitoring helps to measure the amount of professionalism, ethical compliance and access to parties and candidates, especially in the context of the guidelines relating to media role at elections which includes the Electoral Law, Statutory Regulations such as the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and Self-Regulatory like the Media Code of Election Coverage.

International Press Centre (IPC)

“In view of the importance of the exercise, IPC has over the election cycles always monitored media coverage and reportage of elections. Over a two-year period under EU-SDGNI, from May 2018 to April 2020, it monitored media coverage of the 2019 elections by twelve print and online newspapers. These were: The Punch, The Guardian, Daily Sun, Vanguard, ThisDay, Nigerian Tribune, The Nation, Leadership, Daily Trust, Blueprint (online), The Cable (online) and Premium Times (online).”

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The Executive Director also stated that the result of the 2019 monitoring exercise facilitated the design and the approach of the current monitoring exercise for the upcoming 2023 elections.

Further to this, the number of the print and online newspapers was increased to fifteen from twelve, consisting of 10 print newspapers: The Punch, The Guardian, Daily Sun, Vanguard, ThisDay, Nigerian Tribune, The Nation, Leadership, Daily Trust, and Daily Independent; and 4 online newspapers: The Cable, the Premium Times, Eagle Online, RealNews and Authority).

However, based on feedback from the field, there are plans from February 2023 the number to 20 (10 print and 10 online), to ensure larger media samples across the country.

The five online newspapers planned to be added are: Wikki Times, Qualitative Magazine, Next Edition, PenPushing and Ikenga.

In addition, a reward system has been launched under the current exercise. Thus, every quarter, news media that excel in the coverage of the issues of women, youths and persons with disability (in terms of the volume of reports and the prominence given to the reports), shall be recognized and presented with awards. The winners for the first quarter (October to December, 2022) will be announced soon, he disclosed.

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Speaking also, Prof Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, presented review of the media monitoring report on coverage of 2023 electoral process stating that the report was part of an eighteen-month media monitoring activity involving the examination of the trends in print/online media coverage of the 2023 electoral/democratic governance process including the reportage of post-election issues, campaigns by candidates/political parties; issues of the elections/voting; and post-election/democratic accountability issues.

The newspapers monitored are The Punch, The Guardian, Daily Sun, Vanguard, This Day, Nigerian Tribune, The Nation, Leadership, Daily Trust, and Daily Independent while the five online media include The Cable, the Premium Times, Eagle Online, RealNews and the Authority.

Also monitored are the News Portal (website) and the twitter handles of Nigeria’s election management body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), she disclosed.

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