By Ndidichukwu Odoh

British Council Nigeria has urged the media to play a key role in the reduction of conflict through accurate and impartial news reporting.

The Council during a capacity building meeting in Abuja said the media’s role in educating, informing, entertaining and influencing public opinion in Nigeria has been more critical in recent times.

It said in a fast-paced digital era the workshop was organized to address key issues as they affect the media.

The issues discussed include ‘Upholding journalism ethics in the age of social media- sifting facts from fake news; Conflict sensitive journalism; Equality Diversity and Inclusion in the Nigerian media; Collaborations in the media space; Storytelling in contemporary Nigeria; Child Protection and Impact of our activities on the environment.’

“For media to play a role in reduction of conflict and aggression emanating from news, it involves the reporters, ability to gain a sound understanding of the two-way interaction between activities and context and acting to minimize the negative impact of reporting it,” said facilitator, Lauratu Umar Abdusalam, communication specialist and media engagement advisor, Palladium.

Lauratu also urged the media to imbibe ethical and conflict-sensitive culture towards reporting the up-coming elections in the country, “imbibe impartial journalism, to tell two sides or more to every story and reflect all significant strands of opinion.”

This follows digital access where everyone and anyone can assume the role of a journalist.

The two-day session featured thought leaders in the field of journalism, branding and marketing.

Speaking on ‘Upholding journalism ethics in the age of social media – Sifting facts from fake news’, Arukaino Umukoro, CNN/Multichoice African Journalist of the year mentioned the importance of verifying facts before publication in the media.

Sharing a few case studies where fake news has led to fatality, he drew the team’s attention to its professional ethics in spite of the digital pace and pressure to simply break a news item.

Speaking at the session, Lanre Phillips of Elpee Consulting, a sales/ marketing and brand professional spoke to the journalists on the ‘value of storytelling in reportage’. He used the opportunity to share the best ways of engaging audiences using storytelling and also shared global best practices and trends.

The power of collaboration with international media was led by Chiagozie Nwonwu, a senior broadcast journalist at the BBC’s new Igbo Language service.

He drew on his experience on collaborations within the creative writing industry and within the media, prompting the journalists present at the session to come up with collaboration ideas across their represented media organisations.

On the reasons the training was designed, Louisa Waddingham, Director of Programmes, British Council Nigeria noted the huge role played by the media in Nigeria.

She mentioned that the British Council is the UK’s International Organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities and the different programmes carried out by the organisation are focused on creating opportunities for people in Nigeria.

This includes providing platforms where knowledge can be shared amongst key stakeholders that will prompt development.

Also speaking on some of the British Council projects on civil society and justice, Dr Bob Arnot, Programme Director, Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN)/ Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (ROLAC) in British Council shared a few of the development projects run by the British Council.

He explained how working with the police in Nigeria has provided an opportunity for a perception change through different training initiatives. These initiatives are from earlier programmes run by the British Council like the Justice for All programme.

He also talked about the opportunities to manage conflict within the traditional setting and how the British Council through the current European Union funded programme, Managing Conflict in Nigeria, train traditional rulers and their wives in ways of managing conflict within their communities.