Prof. Abihail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, delivering her paper at the DOPF 2018 convention/lecture.
The evil of taking advantage of the breakthrough in technology with the use of the Smartphone device to create false and deceptive contents was unveiled Wednesday, November 7th, 2018 in Asaba at a lecture delivered by an erudite scholar, Prof. Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika.
It was at the first convention lecture and the Niger Delta Media Hall of fame induction /award organized by the Delta Online Publishers Forum (DOPF) a group of online practicing journalists, mainly publishers whose mission and vision are centred on ethics, professionalism and service in the business of fulfilling the journalism mandate as publishers and purveyors of credible news that are authentic and verifiable information.
Speaking on “Curbing Fakes: The Role of Online News media,” Prof Ogwezzy-Ndisika noted that the theme of the convention lecture, “The role of online news media in 2019 election: Managing fake news’, was timely, even as she considered it an opportunity to contribute towards the February 2019 general elections and the role of role of the media.
She observed: “The online news media has grown with the aid of technology. Everyone has the power to be a content creator, publisher and consumer at the same time. Even as this sounds contemporary, there are issues that come with this trend. Just a button on your Smartphone device can forward to hundreds on your contact list: a WhatsApp message that is false. The desire to be the first to break the ‘news’ on facebook, twitter or on other online platforms without first confirming has been the bane of this era we live in.”
Quoting some authors, Allcott and Gentzkoe (2017) who described fake news a “news items that are intentionally planted in the media with the aim of confusing or/and misleading the news consumers,” Prof Ogwezzy-Ndisika said she belived strongly that fake news is a threat to the cyberspace.
“To me fakes should have no place to thrive. The damage it does outweighs its advantages, if there is any. Therefore, there must be a mechanism through which fakes are eliminated. Stakeholders in the media industry must stop at nothing to ensure that truth prevails,” she declared.
She pointed out that one of the evils that the publication of fake news has brought with it is that of creating credibility problems that tarnish the image of seasoned journalists. She stated: “As online news purveyors, the onus lies on us to ensure information dissemination is disseminated professionally. As an academic of media studies, I teach students of journalism on the importance of confirming information with several sources before publishing. The popular saying goes thus: ‘If in doubt, leave out.’
“This applies to online publishers. Never be too fast to publish unconfirmed stories. Publishing such stories goes a long way in tarnishing the image of your outfit and distorts the information cycle.
She also admonished the journalist to “work at the credibility problems in the online media by ensuring whatever they were publishing had all the elements of credibility. “The credibility issue surrounding online news media has continued to tarnish the good work of seasoned journalists and online news media publishers.” Prof.Ogwezzy-Ndisika said.
As the February 2019 elections draw near in Nigeria, and noting that the country needs a credible election, the Don said:
“The media especially online media must be at the fore of ensuring that the right narratives are in the public domain. The media must not be used again as the ground for politicians to throw tantrums at each other. If Nigeria breaks, no one will have any place to call home.
“As such every stakeholder in the media industry must strive to uphold the tenets of the profession. Journalists that work for online news media must be as patriotic and passionate about having a Nigeria that works. They must not give the ‘media rostrum’ to politicians to pontificate at will through comments laced with acerbic, half-truths and lies.”