Simon Lalong: Plateau Gov. tasks journalists on safeguarding democracy

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Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau State

The Governor of Plateau State has urged journalists and the media on the roles in safeguarding Nigeria's security and democracy.

The Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, has urged Nigerian journalists to be mindful of the kind of information they dish out to the public in order to safeguard peace, security, and democracy.   

Governor Lalong gave the charge in a speech at the executive session of the 13th annual All Nigeria Editors' Conference [ANEC], held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Sunday, September 24, 2017.

Represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mark Longyen, at the event organized by the Nigerian Guild of Editors [NGE], with the theme 'Nigerian Media: Balancing Professionalism, Advocacy, and Business,' the Governor counseled the media to embrace responsible reportage and developmental journalism as their watchword.

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According to Lalong, 'the media can be very destructive when wrongly used, especially for political vendetta or mischief by the opposition or crisis merchants.'

The Governor, in a statement issued by Longyen at the conference, noted that the country was passing through serious security threats, noting that journalists have a duty to contribute in dousing the tensions.

"Journalists should use their pens to safeguard peace, security and democratic governance rather than being used to fan the embers of hate and fueling the fragile peace by what they write.

In this era of global terrorism and insurgency, marauding herdsmen, ethnic militia and a viral Hurricane Maria-like social media, where killings, hate-speech, and fake news take centre stage, with uncensored news flying at the speed of light, I urge the Nigerian Guild of Editors to urgently take deliberate steps to curb unbridled media impunity by sanctioning culprits, considering the dangerous implications of such unprofessional acts on the nation's democracy, peace and security architecture."

According to Lalong who recently won the Best Governor Award in Nigeria, 'imbalance, inaccurate, inadequate or fake information, couched in hate or hatred can before, during or after a conflict, make people desperate, restless and easy to manipulate, thereby culminating in crisis of inadvertent, incalculable and unimaginable monumental proportions.'

"Practicing journalists and their media organizations, therefore, all risk being consumed in the attendant smoldering conflagration that could be occasioned by the very stories that they write, publish or broadcast," he said.

Governor Lalong, therefore, urged the media to purge themselves of unprofessional bias, as well as inculcate some form of patriotic self-censorship, while steering clear from what he called sensational and judgmental journalism.

"It is an established fact that no democratic government, the world over, no less our rescue administration which prides in transparency and accountability, can exist in a vacuum.

We run an open door government in which our activities, programs, and actions are at all times subjected to the rigorous and sustained scrutiny of the media as our watchdog.

Democracy is globally accepted as the rule of a majority, but a truly democratic framework also demands and ensures that those elected must be accountable to the electorate, and this is where the media play a very crucial role in ensuring that this is protected," he added.

Continuing, Governor Lalong said:

"Journalists should, therefore, use their pens as tools for the promotion, protection, safeguarding, and building of peace and security, as well as the advancement and development of our nascent democracy.

The media must purge themselves of unprofessional bias, inculcate patriotic self-censorship, stay clear of judgmental journalism, which is often dressed in the garb of speculative reportage and story embellishment."

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He also noted that ANEC, being the largest single gathering of senior editors and journalists, was a fertile ground for media professionals and veterans to rub minds on issues bordering not only on their own profession but other critical issues of national and global import.

from - Gist

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