Be responsible in your reporting, Osoba warns online publishers

Be responsible in your reporting, Osoba warns online publishers
Former Ogun gov. Segun Osoba

Former Governor of Ogun State and veteran journalist, Chief Olusegun Osoba, has warned online journalists to be responsible in their reporting, particularly in the area of the economy and politics.

According to him, the media has a major role to play in presenting issues in a way that helps the public to make sense out of contending views.

Osoba gave the warning on Friday in Lagos at the second annual conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP).

His words:  Whilst I will be looking forward to the outcome of your deliberations, I note that when the subjects of discourse touch the economy, credible elections and security of our country, there is no doubt that there is a lot to chew upon. Precipitate publications on the economy without appropriate contextual analysis are not the forte of responsible journalism. Naked partisanship that downplays the views and positions of some candidates so as to promote our biases is not the way to build credibility for our news organisations or the electoral process.

“The media have a major role to play as impartial arbiters who should present the issues, the candidates and their positions on these issues in a way that helps the public to make sense out of the contending views. It is good to get the news first but it is certainly better to get it right.”

Osoba who was represented at the event by another veteran journalist, Mr. Lanre Idowu, said GOCOP should make its members to realise the extent of their power.

According to him, if there was any medium that had the greatest potential to stoke conflict through precipitate and unverified information, it was the online media.

He said in a country with still a large population of the uneducated, there was need to be careful not to unwittingly stoke violent conflicts, stunt economic development and imperil the future of our people.

“I urge you to remain apostles of good journalism where facts remain sacred and informed commentary is free,” he said.

Osoba also declared that online journalism had come to stay.

“What was seen as the future has indeed become the present. At the touch of a laptop or tablet keyboard, information travels across geographical space and time zones. What was deemed impossible has become real. The world is only a click away. The development is both exhilarating and bewildering,” he said.

He stressed that while online publishing is  positive in the sense that it opens the world to greater exploration, it has its negative side.

That, he said, could come in the ease and race to share information which is open to great abuse if met with lack of sufficient care and diligence.

He explained:  “It is this abuse manifested in the shape of fake news, unverified information and the inclination for mischief and blackmail by some bloggers that threatens the integrity of the online medium.

“It is a global concern that you need to continuously look into. How can we reduce the proclivity for this errant behaviour? How much training and retraining can you put together for your members and other online practitioners to ensure we do not allow the menace to grow?”