*Introduction*
The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria, held two-day workshops for
online journalists/blogger on conflict sensitive reporting online, ahead of
the 2019 general elections. The workshops, which were supported by the
European Union (EU) under  Component 4b: Support to the media of the EU
Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) project, were held on
Tuesday, September 18 and Wednesday September 19, 2018 at Continental
Suites, IBB Boulevard, Ibara, Abeokuta, Ogun State and Thursday September
20 and Friday September 21, 2018 at Grand Pela Hotel, Abuja, respectively.
The two workshops attracted a total of 71 online journalists/bloggers, with
the Abeokuta workshop attracting 36 participants from the six southwest
states, while the Abuja workshop attracted 35 participants from the FCT,
the North-East, North-Central, South-East and South-South regions of
Nigeria.
The thrust of the workshop was to build the capacity of the concerned online
journalists/bloggers in using online media for fair, balanced, language
sensitive and conflict sensitive reporting of the elections. Overall, the
workshop focused on building the capacity of participants on professional
and conflict sensitive reporting of the electoral processes as well as
mitigating hate speech in an online environment.
*Goodwill messages and Presentations.*
The workshop in Abeokuta which received goodwill remarks from Comrade Wole
Shokunbi, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Ogun State and Dr. Niran
Malaolu, former Ogun state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, and
the founding MD/CEO of Rock city FM, featured six main presentations.
There were presentations accompanied by interactive question, answer and
comment sessions including a plenary session on emerging issues/real
lifescenarios
and practical steps to managing conflict situations in online reporting
that was moderated by the workshop facilitator/resource persons.
The first day had four presentations. The  First presentation, *Understanding
conflict, its nature and character* was delivered by Dr. Dan Jibo,
Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan, while
the Second
presentation, *Understanding communication challenges in the age of
conflict, hate speech and fake news* was delivered by Professor Nosa
Owens-Ibie, Dean, College of Social and Management Sciences (COSOMAS), Caleb
University, Imota-Nigeria*.*
The Third Presentation*, Contemporary conflicts in Nigeria and possible
impact on media coverage of 2019 elections: the pitfalls to avoid in Online
Reporting*was anchored by Dr. Dan Jibo*,* while the  fourth
Presentation, *Social
Media and Elections: Knowing and Dealing with the Challenges* was handled
by Dr. Qasim Akinreti, Assistant News Editor, Voice of Nigeria
(VON)/Chairman, Lagos NUJ.
There were two presentations on the second, namely, *Giving practical
effect to conflict sensitive reporting online* by Dr. Qasim Akinreti and
*Sticking** to ethics and professionalism in online reporting* by Pr*ofessor
Nosa Owens-Ibie. *A special session*, **Introduction to anti-hoax
platforms* was
handled by Mr. JamiunFolarin, Dept of Mass Communication, Crescent
University, Abeokuta.
Six papers were also delivered at the Abuja leg of the workshop by three
resources respectively. The first resource person, Dr. Ruqayyah Yusuf Aliyu
of the Department of Information and Media Studies, Bayero University Kano,
had two presentations, *’Understanding Conflict: Its Nature & Character’*
and *’Hate Speech & Fake News: Imperatives of Ethics & Professionalism in
Online Reporting in Nigeria’**.*
The second resource person, Dr. Y.Z Yau, Executive Director, CITAD
presented two papers on *’Contemporary Conflicts in Nigeria and Possible
Impact on Media Coverage of 2019 Elections’* and *’Monitoring of Hate
Speech Online: Observations, Lessons and Recommendations from Outcomes’*.
The third resource person,  Mr. Musikilu Mojeed, Editor-In-Chief, Premium
Times spoke on *’Social Media & Elections: Giving Practical Effect to
Conflict Sensitive Reporting Online*’ and *’News gathering & Newsroom Gate
keeping in Era of Hate Speech: Tips on Pitfalls to Avoid*’.
* Observations*
The Workshop identified and noted the following:
1.          Embellished’ news reports with tribal, ethnic or religious
undertones are often the purveyor of conflicts in Nigeria.
2.          There are growing concerns about the use of social media and
online mediums for the dissemination of fake news and hate speeches.
3.          Photo-shopped photographs and disturbing videos with fabricated
local narratives promoted through online sources can trigger tension,
political  crisis and even communal conflict in sensitive communities.
            5.    Conflict is a natural occurrence and inevitable; mainly
orchestrated by perceived threats.
4.          Hate Speech is among the universal inflammatory speeches like
dangerous and offensive speeches.
5.          Hate speech criminalises people, demeans and puts them in a bad
light.
6.          Hate Speech is not just about spoken or published words; it can
come in the form of music, graphics or inscription on cloths, etc.
7.          Hate speech leads to violence due to explicit, implied,
contextual or historical ‘call to action’ imbedded therein. Therefore hate
speech is a hallmark of dangerous speech.
8.          Online journalists/ bloggers are always on the edge to be the
first to ‘break the news’ which inadvertently is lowering the bar of
factual and professional reporting.
9.          Unprofessional reporting online cast aspersion on the
credibility of media professionals working in the online environment.
*Recommendations*:
In view of the forthcoming 2019 and subsequent elections, the following
recommendations were made to serve as a guideline to online
journalists/bloggers reporting governance and electoral matters:
                                    i.            Online
Journalists/Bloggers reporting governance and electoral matters should
restrict themselves to the Ethical Framework & Stipulated Guidelines which
would differentiate them from the regular trend of citizenship journalism.
                                  ii.            Online Journalists/Bloggers
reporting governance and electoral matters should equip themselves with
information andknowledge on conflicts especially its context, its
underlining causes, its effects and preventive and corrective measures.
                                iii.            Online Journalists/
Bloggers should profile peace makers and subdue voices of purveyors of
intolerance and cheerleaders of hate, xenophobic & religious extremists.
                                  iv.            Online Journalists/Bloggers
reporting governance and electoral matters should exhibit high sense of
professionalism in reporting the elections more so as good journalism
requires the provision of accurate and reliable information to citizens;
                                    v.            Online journalists/
bloggers should be careful about reports and stories that could trigger
killings and destruction;
                                  vi.            Online journalists/
bloggers should pay more attention to what they publish online because of
the attendant implications for peaceful co-existence and social cohesion;
                                vii.            Online journalists/
bloggers should note that their negligence in applying ethical
considerations to reports online, can cause unnecessary violence or even
deaths of people;
                              viii.            Online journalists/ bloggers
need to stick to ethical standards by making sure that contents are problem
solving;
                                  ix.            Online journalists/
bloggers should embrace responsible journalism by looking out for accurate and
factual dissemination of news;
                                    x.            Online
journalists/bloggers should avoid sensational and misleading headlines in
their reports but rather stick to professional and  credible reporting
online;
                                  xi.            Online
journalists/bloggers should  verify  news from all sides before publication
in-order for their medium not to be tagged a medium  of fake news;
                                xii.            Online journalists/
bloggers should endeavour to cross check the source of their contents
and should
avoid words that could trigger crisis or conflict in their reportage;
                              xiii.            Online journalists/bloggers
must be promoters of change and always guide against hate speech in their
reporting in order not to raise political tension.
                              xiv.            Online
Journalists/Bloggers should be at the vanguard of mitigating hate speech by
appreciating the cultural differences (in Nigeria) and promoting common good
and unity.
*Appreciations*
The participants expressed gratitude to the EU-SDGN for supporting the
workshop.
SGD:
‘Lanre Arogundade
Director, IPC
t: +234.802.3186.845

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