2023: Media fairness not totally achievable – Expert

Dr Saeedat Aliyu, the Acting Director, University Relations, Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, has advised journalists to exhibit high degree of fairness in the coverage of the 2023 general elections.

She however noted that media fairness was not totally achievable because of obvious reasons.

Aliyu gave the advice on Wednesday at the grand finale of the 2022 Press Week of the Kwara TV Chapel of the Kwara Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Ilorin.

Aliyu, who spoke on the theme: “Press Freedom: A panacea for sustainable democratic process”, said each individual was driven by perception and bias.

“Now, we are approaching another period in our history as a nation and we get to test yet again our electoral maturity in the 2023 general elections.

“The media plays crucial roles before, during and after the process by informing, regulating and generally setting the tone of the election and even of the reception of the election and its verdicts.

“The theme wasn’t only timely because the 2023 elections are just about the corner, but also for the fact that fair reportage of news about the persons, process and events surrounding the elections is fundamentally key to the success or otherwise of the elections.

“As a crucial factor in the attainment of media ethics, of objectivity, fair reporting is also an expected responsibility of journalism.

“But, is media fairness achievable? Not really, because each individual is driven by perception and bias.

“Most journalists learn early in their training about balancing stories, about objectivity, about ensuring that all sides of a story are heard.

“But inevitably, the language through which a story is conveyed is arbitrary and may be misconstrued or re-construed by the audience,” the acting director said.

She added that when a report does not explore a particular angle that some people expect, such persons label the report and sometimes the reporter as biased and unfair.

“The best we can hope for in respect to the 2023 general elections is reportage that does not fan the embers of discord, that does not distort reality which may influence the general acceptance of the election,” Aliyu said.

She however urged media outlets that people still trust for balanced and fair reportage to remain true to the cause of professional journalism and present factual and proven account in a timely manner.

“Journalists are expected to be fair to their sources of information just as they are expected to be fair to their audience.

“All these are applicable to the journalist to whom the ethics of the profession are sacrosanct.

“But, sifting for accuracy, for fairness, for balance and for objectivity is a challenge every Nigerian must commit to regardless of our individual biases,” said the expert.

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