Friday, 1 December 2017

Abia Information Commissioner Offers To Train Journalists In Online News Writing


Abia State Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, has offered to organize free online news reporting training for news Correspondents in Abia State. Chief Okiyi Kalu made this offer during the Media Week / Launch of Almanac event of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists at Michael Okpara Auditorium, Umuahia.

He assured members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists of his readiness and willingness to work closely with them to advance the cause of journalism through organizing trainings to bring the practitioners up to date with the demands of modern journalism across platforms.

Mr Okiyi reiterated his earlier commitment to inform Abians truthfully on relevant issues of governance, as directed by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, and assured correspondents in Abia State that his doors will always remain open for them to seek information and clarifications on all government activities and programs. He also assured them of greater access to the Governor and other public officials to enable them get adequate information to share with members of the public.

The Information boss expressed worries that professional media practitioners have allowed social media operators and online news free lancers, who are not bound by journalistic ethics, to lead and relegate mainstream media as primary source of information to the reading public; a situation he considered as worrisome and advocated for correspondents to undergo necessary trainings to improve their competence and reposition their career.

He called on practicing journalists in the State to adopt and champion the 'Made in Aba' campaign of the Okezie Ikpeazu led administration, urging them not to allow themselves to be used to de-market the state and her hard working  entrepreneurs who are in need of patronage from across the country. 

According to him, "promoting Made In Aba brands will encourage more patronage for the brands and create more employment opportunities for the teeming youths of the State and help in drastically reducing crimes such as kidnapping, armed robbery, prostitution etc". He frowned at the situation where available crime reports in Nigeria indicate that Abia is one of the safest states with the least recorded number of crimes whereas majority of the members of the public perceive the state otherwise.

He urged correspondents in Abia State to jettison "journalistic Afghanistanism" and   Improve on reporting positive developments in the state under the watch of Governor Ikpeazu, stating that there are a lot of positive developments in the state in the past 30 months such as the infrastructural and agricultural development strides of Governor Ikpeazu's administration that are scarcely reported in mainstream media.

Chief Okiyi came down hard on the publication and distribution of Fake News articles and other inciting materials capable of undermining security of life and properties of citizens and applauded the members of NUJ for their measured reporting during the recent crises in the state occasioned by the launch of Operation Python Dance 2.

In his speech, the Chairman of the occasion, Ochiagha Regan Ufomba, represented by the News Manager of Radio Nigeria Pace-setter FM, Sir Obinna Odonwuike, called on the journalists in the state to continue to carefully balance their reports and ensure they verify and get all shades of opinion before running with stories. He encouraged journalists to work harder and check the activities of social media operators with a view to ensuring that all sorts of falsehood are not allowed to see the light of the day in the social media space.

Delivering a lecture titled "Journalism Practice in Abia State : Problems and Prospects", a former Head of Mass Communication Department, Abia State University, Uturu, Dr. Uwaoma Uche, regretted that journalism practice has become an 'all comers affairs'  and stressed on the need for analytical journalism in Nigeria, maintaining that investigative journalism should be employed to demolish rumor mongering that have taken over journalism practice in Abia State.

The lecturer who recommended that information should form part of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, noted that Abia media management has taken a mature paradigm shift and improved greatly in information dissemination channels from 2008 til date as a lot of media houses have sprung up.
He called on journalists to avoid sycophancy, yellow journalism, character assassination, sensationalism, Afghanistanism among others in order to make good reporters.

In his remarks, the state Chairman of NUJ, Comrade John Emejor, stated that journalists in Abia State have resolved to always get their facts, stories and analysis right and ensure the people are properly informed. He advocated that development journalism should be upheld in Abia State. Comrade Emejor regretted non-payment of salaries in many private media outlets and said that the new salary review being canvassed in the nation should be implemented in all the media houses, both public and private.

In his address, the Chairman, Correspondents Chapel, Mr. Emma Ugwu said the media week celebration offers correspondents the opportunity to review the activities of the the Chapel in the last one year. He described 2017 as challenging to Abia based journalists as it was the year that the "python danced at the NUJ press centre" and thanked God that the "madness did not result in the death of any journalist"

Comrade Ugwu expressed appreciation to the Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, Ochiagha Regan Ufomba, Anglican Church and others who identified with journalists during the time officers of the Nigeria Army invaded the press centre and attacked journalists. He regretted that many media houses no longer pay salaries regularly without considering that Journalists have families, needs and responsibilities, adding that that may be the reason some now work against ethics of the profession, a situation he said was uncalled for.

He also condemned the activities of those he described as quacks that have invaded the profession and called on the NUJ at the national level and law enforcement agencies to help in checking the activities of those tarnishing the image of journalists in the state. He wondered why media establishments owners will encourage quackery by employing non professionals and called on them to ensure that those already employed update themselves through studies and register with NUJ.

The Chairman made it clear that Correspondents in the State have no issues with the Governor of Abia State and thanked him for committing to complete the NUJ Press centre to give journalists a befitting accommodation.

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