THE Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos state, Hon Kehinde Bamigbetan on Wednesday declared that there is no excuse for any media practitioner to distort facts, adding that even pressure from publishers should not influence such acts.
The Commissioner made the assertion on Wednesday while speaking during the official launch of CrossCheck Nigeria, a collaborative effort between Nigerian media organisations to combat fake news ahead of the forthcoming 2019 general elections at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos.
Bamigbetan stated that the rate at which fake news trend in the country is an alarm, adding that the government is interested in seeing the effect of the collaboration in fighting fake news and mid representations.
Earlier, a panel discussion session on strategies of curbing misinformation had concluded that facts are sacred and credibility must be upheld at all costs.
The panel, made up of the chairman of Channels Television, Mr John Momoh represented by Ronke Raju, the Executive Editor of Guardian, Mr Martins Oloja, Mr Dayo Aiyetan of the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), publisher of the Niche, Ikechukwu Amaechi and the Head of Mass Communication department of the University of Lagos, Prof Abigail Ogwezzy, all agreed that there is fake news.
In his contribution, Mr Oloja stated that “fake news is a challenge in Nigeria because creators of fake news are very resourceful. Fake news is real especially now that election is coming and the way people share it on social media platforms is a cause for concern.”
According to Amaechi, fake news is not a new reality as deliberate misinformation of people had been in existence even before president Donald Trump magnified it.
All the panellists agreed that though fake news is a menace, it can be curbed when media practitioners uphold professionalism and hold facts sacred.
The CrossCheck Nigeria project is facilitated by a United Kingdom organisation fighting misinformation globally, Forst Draft in collaboration with International Institute for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).
The online platform for the initiative, http://crosschecknigeria.org/ is a collaborative information verification project was launched officially to the public for participating media houses to start work.
About 46 journalists from the 18 selected media organisation, involving both the traditional and new media have been trained to take up the project.
The Managing Director of First Draft, Jenni Sargent, in her introduction of the project during the launch, said the project is a collaborative verification exercise aimed at curbing the spread of fake news.
She said the CrossCheck Nigeria would help to debunk misinformation and fake news as well as sanitise the media space in the run-up to coming Nigeria’s general elections.