On October, 22, 2015, the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) Kano, with support from the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Program (NSRP), hosted the fourth of a series of media sensitization program on hate and dangerous speech workshop for journalists. This one was for journalists from the South South geopolitical zone, held in Port Harcourt.
The event which was held at the Social Development Integrated Centre in Port Harcourt was attended by journalists from various print, electronic as well as online media platforms, members of the Rivers state executive council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists as well a representative of the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Program’s Port Harcourt regional office.
The event had in attendance journalists from about 40 media organizations including the Tide newspaper, Leadership, Radio Rivers, amongst others.
In his welcome remarks, Adam Alqali, CITAD’s Media & Communication Associate introduced the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) to the participants describing the organization as a capacity building civil society organization whose activities covers research, advocacy, training as well as publicity in all areas of ICT.
He added that CITAD’s activities cut across various thematic areas including governance, entrepreneurship, ICT for development, community support services as well as peace campaigns, under which the hate speech monitoring and countering project falls. He stated that the project which started in January 2015 with the support of the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Program (NSRP) and MacArthur Foundation had a monitoring platform that monitors activities on Nigeria’s social media landscape (24 hours/ 7days) including in local languages.
1st Presentation: Understanding Dangerous and Hate Speech
In his presentation, Understanding Dangerous and Hate Speech, Abdulganiyu Rufai, CITAD’s program officer in charge of peace projects described the social media, which is a means of communication that is open to everyone, as purveyors of problems. He said the social media as a platform had security implications including being used for spreading hate and dangerous speech; being used by those recruiting youth into violent engagements; as well as its being used for identity theft and impersonation to cause confusion and defraud people
Speaking on the Benesch framework of identifying hate and dangerous speech he said the 5 factors for identifying hate speech were: the speaker and his/her influence over a given audience; a receptive audience subject to incitement by speaker; speech content understood as a call to violence; social and historical context of the speech; as well as medium of disseminating speech, including language.
He added that over the last three years, CITAD has been involved in working on social media on three different themes including social media for peace campaign; monitoring and countering of hate speech; as well as developing of cattle rustling tracking information system (catris)
2nd Presentation: Monitoring Hate Speech – A Synopsis of the Result
Omoni Ayo-Tamuno, Chairman, Rivers NUJ
While opening the discussion session, Omoni Ayo-Tamuno, the chairman of the Rivers State council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, who was represented by his vice chairperson, Ms Uche Abah said the NUJ was happy with the hate speech monitoring and countering initiative calling on journalists to be cautious of what they say on air/ publish and ensure they caution their guests on TV/ radio programs against disseminating hate and dangerous speeches on their media platforms.
At the end of the program the following resolutions were made by participants at the media sensitization program;
- Journalists tend to use their media platforms to promote their own opinions instead of being impartial to issues which are against the ethics of the journalism profession.
- Some TV/radio programs presenters have tendencies for trying to influence their guests into speaking in favour of their own personal opinions which is unethical.
- Journalists’ reporting are being influenced by their biases hence the tendency to spread hate and dangerous speeches on traditional media platforms.
- Journalists seem to underestimate the powerful influence of the media in inciting the people hence the tendency to disseminate hate and dangerous speech
- Journalists are not equipped with conflict sensitive communication skills which is also responsible for hate and dangerous speech in the media
- Journalists should avoid publishing/broadcasting information that are libelous or seditious
- Journalists’ reporting activities should always be guided by responsibilities to their societies, media owners and personal integrity.
- Journalists must always adhere to the principles of responsible and ethical journalism to be able to avoid the dissemination of hate and dangerous speech
- Journalists should always be conscious of the culture of the people of their host communities so they don’t broadcast/publish what may be misinterpreted by their audience.
- CITAD and the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Program (NSRP) should organize more such sensitization programs to keep media stakeholders on their toes
- Journalists should always be careful when it comes to their choice of words; they should know the types of words they use; how and when they use them.
- Journalists should not align themselves with the interests of their employers (media owners) when it is again the interest of the society.
- Journalists should not always be bugged by the fear of losing their jobs which makes it difficult for them to avoid broadcasting/ publishing hate and dangerous speech on the order of their employers as they will always get other opportunities when sacked.
- Journalists should always apply common sense in their reportorial jobs by investigating and balancing stories before airing/publishing them.
- Journalists should always be apolitical by being impartial about issues
- Radio and TV presenters should regularly invite experts for discussions on hate and dangerous speech on their media platforms.
- NUJ should join the campaign against hate and dangerous speech dissemination in the media
- Journalists should form media coalitions against hate and dangerous speech so as to be the ones campaigning against it themselves.