1 October 2008

Nigeria: Responsibility of the Press, By Mike Okiro

The Inspector General of Police Mike Okiro yesterday spelt out the responsibilities of the press but said sensationalism should never form part of that sacred duty. Mike Okiro made the assertion at an interactive session with the media practitioners in Lagos.

He said journalists have to conduct thorough investigations on any matter before reporting it as well as avoid one sided and negative reporting.

"In the recent past, it appears that our media practitioners now practice sensational journalism that is, trying to capture the interest of the public without carrying out proper checks on their items. Records abound where both print and electronic media carry false and unsubstantiated news that negatively affect our national interest. Some of these reports include Al-Qaeda plans to bomb Nigeria, (Newspaper, May 10 2008), Reps query IGP for paying N1.2b to IT Consultant in e-Recruitment exercise (Newspaper, July 22 2008), Robbers raid President's mother's home (Newspaper August 19 2008), Robbers attack Tinubu's House in Lagos (Newspaper September 15 2008), President to resign (Television Station) and INEC inefficient (Newspaper), the story attributed to United States of America Ambassador to Nigeria. My worry is that this development is capable of undermining the internal security of the nation."

He said the role of the media bestowed on it the characteristics of a watch dog, public investigators and information brokers. He said the media can play a significant role in community action taken to prevent crime and urged journalists to rededicate themselves to the service of humanity.

"Journalist plays a key role constructing the vision of others, influencing stability and change practice that go with these visions. Media can also be used in promoting an ideal social order as well as promoting patriotism in the populace. The media not only reflect social concern, it also helps shape the ways they are perceived by the public," the IGP said.

He said the mass media has the potential to help correct or prevent social ills, crime inclusive. He said the mass media is in a position to investigate corruption, challenge the legitimacy of laws, institutions and authorities and participate or indeed act as catalyst in the movement toward a better society. He also charged the media to collaborate with the government and the police in carrying out their duties.

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