For the International Centre For Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Wednesday, June 22, 2022 was a day of an unusual workload; the not-for-profit media organisation, which has since 2012 kept Nigerian government at all levels on their toes, played host to a galaxy of resourceful guests drawn from different sectors to witness its conference commemorative the 10th anniversary of the body.
Away from its headquarters in Abuja, the ICIR moved albeit temporarily its office to the five-star Transcorp Hilton, where the conference themed ‘Media Sustainability in Nigeria,’ successfully held.
Even though the keynote Speaker, who is chairman, Arena Holdings, South Africa, Tshepo Mahloele, could not make it to the Nigeria’s capital, he was represented by a former Editor, Sunday Times, South Africa, Mr Bongani Siqoko.
According to Executive Director of the ICIR, Mr Dayo Aiyetan, the conference, held from 10 am to 3 pm, was principally organised “in order to dissect the existential challenges facing both legacy and digital media in the country.”
In a communiqué signed by Aiyetan, it is clarified that media business should be purpose-driven with a clear definition of purposes for which media companies are in the business.
The conference also recognised media organisations as change agents, thus, charged them to be more relevant to the development of the society in order to stay afloat.
Media organisations, it added, must insist on competent workforce in their recruitment policies to maintain what is called a competitive standard.
The conference also acknowledged need for media organisations to “emphasize excellence, openness, integrity, transparency, accountability, and must invest in exclusive and investigative contents in order to survive in the hostile business environment.”
It further stressed that to become commercially viable and physically stable in the industry, media owners must invest in news gathering and effectively fund journalists to be daring to go after stories which would hold the government accountable and assert their status as the Fourth Estate of the Realm.
According to the conference, editors and media owners should become crusaders for media freedom by reassuring journalists that under no circumstance would the integrity of the media be allowed to be tampered with.
The conference also averred that independence of the media must be held sacrosanct, most importantly by editors and media owners, urging editors and media owners to stay vigilant and ensure that the voice of the media is not stifled.
“The media, in view of sustainability discourse, needs to explore new content generation opportunities and must be ready to diversify into areas where they have core competence, by coming up with products like music, movies, documentaries as well as other educational and entertainment concepts.
“The media needs to leverage the power of collaboration. At tables where conversations on global investigations e.g Wikileaks, Panama Papers and so on happens, African media must collaborate and ensure it is ably represented. African media must not be seen as purchasers of global content but must take its place as generators of global content.
“In thinking about media sustainability, African media must transit beyond news generation into knowledge generation, as part of its drives for diversification and sustainability.
“The media needs to address the challenge of trust deficit, as sub-standard news contents, misinformation, disinformation, and mal-information has threatened the confidence of the people in the media.
“The media should engage with media regulators on the need to re-evaluate the punitive approach to media regulations. It is believed that a closer working relationship with the regulators is important, while encouraging them to see the media as partners-in-progress.
In order to improve the business environment and enable the media to thrive, the media must draw the attention of the government to the challenges of infrastructure deficit, like the lack of electricity, insecurity apparatus, and bad road network, etc, to ensure they are addressed,” the conference submitted.
The participants congratulated the ICIR for its tenacity in the past 10 years and also applauded it for hosting the conference which focused on the contemporary challenge of media sustainability in Nigeria, and, by extension, in Africa. In its one decade of operation, the organisation, apart from publishing investigative stories, had built the capacity of journalists “across platforms and all the geopolitical zones in Nigeria in emerging areas of media and journalism.”
Panelists and dignitaries who joined the speaker included Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State, Prof Umar Patte, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Radio Now – Kadaria Ahmed; Founder of Connected Development (CODE), Mr Hamza Lawal; David Kaplan of the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN), Dapo Olorunyomi, Publisher of Premium Times; Managing Director, Guardian Newspaper, Martins Oloja (moderator of the panel session);
Other personalities included Mr Babatunde Irukera – FCCPC; Malam Mannir Dan-Ali, former CEO/Editor in Chief, Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust. Others are Mallam Isa Gusau, Special Adviser Media and Strategy, representing the Governor of Borno State, Prof Babagana Zulum; Mr Dayo Olaide, Deputy Director of MacArthur Foundation (Africa), a former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu.
A former the Nigeria Television Authority newscaster, now a multi-media strategist expert, Eugenia Abu, compered the event.
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