Posted by By Effiong Udousoroh, Uyo | 1 March 2015 | 3,470 times
Mr. Ray Ekpu (OFR), the International Editor of the year 1987 by the World Press Review, New York, has said that ethics constitutes guiding light, the shining candle for all professions, including journalism.
Delivering a key note address at a two-day workshop on “Responsible Reporting of The 2015 General Elections In Akwa Ibom State” for media practitioners and civil society organisations in Uyo on Wednesday, Ekpu stated: “I consider this meeting important, because any contribution that can mould the blocks for the building of a successful 2015 elections, is a worthwhile endeavour. This workshop is one of such efforts.”
Ray, as he is popularly addressed, stated further: “Without fear of any contradiction, in the history of this country, the forthcoming election is by far, the most fiercely fought. There has been a lot of heat, but not much of light. There has been a lot of trash talk, a lot of low blows, and a lot of digging for dirt. As the campaign spits and hisses its way to the finish line, the two major parties and even the minor ones are cranking up their mud machines” and engaging in what he called “a mudslinging marathon.”
He explained that journalism practice is guided, not only by appropriate national legislations, but specifically by two things – the professional canons and the code of ethics.
“In recent times and as a guide for the elections, the stakeholders have produced ‘The Nigerian Code of Election Coverage’ which I would recommend to all journalists who are involved in covering the campaigns and elections, whether as photographers, reporters or as editors,”
Ekpu, noted, adding “most journalists are familiar with the canons of journalism practice: accuracy, fairness, objectivity, completeness, etc, but these canons are served better when they are illuminated by ethical consideration.”
The media guru, stated that a leading authority on journalism ethics, Prof. Eugene Godwin, stated that ethics is “a set of principles based on a journalism that serves the public by aggressively seeking and reporting the closest possible truth about events and conditions of concern to a people, a journalism that collects and deals with information honestly and fairly, and treats the people involved with compassion, a journalism that conscientiously interprets and explains the news so that it makes sense to people.”
He further explained that Prof. Godwin’s definition had been expanded by Edmund B. Lambart, in his book, “Committed Journalism: An ethic for the profession”.
In it, he said, “Lambart had enumerated five important principles that ought to cushion the practice, which are: The Principle of Truth-telling, The Principle of Justice, The Principle of Freedom, The Principle of Humaneness and The Principle of Stewardship.”
Ekpu urged the participants to admit that social responsibility theory of the press imposed enormous responsibilities on the practitioners “and we need a lot of virtues, such as courage, temperance, wisdom and fairness to meet these demands” which he noted, “are all in short supply in our lives and society.”
The mass media expert pointed out that there was the notion among some journalists that “the journalism that succeeds is the one that takes adversarial position to government. This concept of adversity, then, seems to define their relationship with officialdom. But the role of an adversary implies a systematic posture of opposition.”
“Journalists do not, should not, and must not, consistently oppose the government of the day.” There ought to be neutrality or cooperation according to common sense and scholarship on the topic under discussion. A consistent, adversarial posture is capable of preventing the positive interpretation of the principles of truth-telling, humaneness, justice, freedom, independence and stewardship of the freedom of expression,” Ekpu advised.
The thought-provoking and educative workshop, was jointly sponsored by VIBRAM Nig. Limited, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Akwa Ibom State government.
Chairman of the occasion, the State Chief Judge, Justice Idongesit Ntem-Isua (CON), in her remarks, noted that, “Once an election is transparent, free and fair, there will be no violence.”
•Photo shows Ray Ekpu.
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