Nigeria Needs Free Press for Democratic Devt - U.S. Consul-General

The United States yesterday disclosed that Nigeria needed press freedom for the development of her democracy.

It tasked the Nigerian media on the need to live up to its expectations as a bridge-builder between the government and the governed.

The US Consul General, Claire Pierangelo stated these in his opening remarks in a webinar event to the 2021 World Press Freedom Day.

She said there was a need for the Nigerian media to continue to put politicians on their toes in the discharge of their responsibilities as representatives of the people who are expected to strengthen the country's democracy through meant for the benefit of the people.

Identifying the theme of this webinar as 'Frontiers of Health Reporting: New Insights, Fresh Perspectives,' Pierangelo said: "The United States government will continue to emphasise the value of promoting and protecting a free press, because the media plays such an essential role in preserving democracy and, as we can witness these days, in providing information that saves lives.

"We all know that a free press is essential to a healthy democracy. The news media can be a powerful force for change. It can effectively fulfill the roles of watchdog, gatekeeper, and agenda-setter. It can improve governance by raising citizen awareness of social issues, enabling citizens to hold their governments to account, curbing corruption, and creating a civic forum for debate. I challenge you to continue to play an effective role in amplifying important issues that affect citizens.

"As media professionals, you must continue to track political and institutional processes by which decisions are taken and implemented at the local, state, and national levels. Your reports must critically analyze the methods and the effectiveness of projects in the field.

"The public depends on your reports - in print, audiovisual, and online - to assess how their elected representatives are performing. As journalists, you can assess how health budgets are managed and whether there are adequate checks and balances in place for effective governance. This is what allows citizens to know whether their local officials are fulfilling their promises and meeting their obligations.

"The US government is committed to initiatives that build media capacity in Nigeria. For years, the US Mission has funded training programs for hundreds of Nigerian journalists on topics ranging from health reporting, defence and national security reporting, investigative journalism, election reporting, to media ethics."

Four resource persons delivered papers to mark the event.

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