The Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) has expressed optimism that the newly launched Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage (Revised Edition 2018) will, to a large extent, guide operators and separate trained journalists from those who suddenly found themselves reporting simply because they have access to a laptop or phone and data.
Dotun Oladipo, President of GOCOP, made this declaration on Friday at the public launch and presentation of the Code during the ongoing International Press Institute Congress holding at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
Oladipo said: “The Guild of Corporate Online Publishers is elated at this recent development in the Nigerian media space with the launch today of the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage.
“We have been a part of this as individual publications and as an association since the journey to review the Code began. We are proud to associate with this effort spearheaded by the International Press Centre, headed by our own Lanre Arogundade, and those who have supported the effort through funding and capacity building.
“For us, the Code represents what we believe in as an association, especially as it relates to election coverage.
“In coming together, the idea behind the formation of GOCOP was to serve as a peer review gathering of Online Publishers who have worked in the print for several years, with some of us rising to become Managing Directors/Editors-in-Chief, Title Editors and a minimum of Line Editors. Most of us also belong to the prestigious Editors’ Club in Nigeria, the Nigeria Guild of Editors.”
Oladipo said further that GOCOP is concerned with the upholding of journalism ethics, especially online, where, according to him, “ethics has been thrown away,” adding: “We pledge our support to this cause as we go on this journey to entrench the code.”
Speaking, the Director of International Press Centre, Lanre Arogundade, said the public launch and presentation of the Code “represents a strong statement that good election reporting matters to journalists and media institutions in Nigeria”.
Arogundade disclosed that the Code has been endorsed by six umbrella media professional groups: Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN); Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON); Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE); Nigeria Union of Hours (NUJ); GOCOP; RATTAWU; 75 broadcast, print and online media; 15 media support groups; and two journalism training institutions – Nigeria Institute of Journalism and International Institute of Journalism.
Arogundade, therefore, enjoined all journalists and media organisations in Nigeria “to strive to read, digest, understand and implement the provisions of this Code”.
According to him, the ultimate goal is that through the credible reporting of the 2019 elections and the electoral processes before and after it, “we can all contribute to credible, free and fair and peaceful elections in the country”.
Arogundade thanked the European Union for supporting the production and dissemination of the Code.
In his presentation, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said from their statistics, youths and women would play greater roles in the 2019 elections.
However, Yakubu assured that strategic plan has been put in place to ensure hitch free elections, noting that part of the plan was the release of election timetable in January 2018, a year ahead of the general elections billed for February 2019.
Yakubu reiterated that there will be no electronic voting in 2019, saying: “I want to assure you that the will of election voters will continue to prevail.”
He said no fewer than 85 media organisations have so far been accredited by INEC, adding that the 2019 elections will be the most widely covered in the history of election in Nigeria.
Speaking, EU Deputy Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Richard Young, assured that the EU would continue to support process that is fair and transparent, saying it is important that the code of conduct has been put in place.
Young commended all the media organisations that partnered with International Press Centre to come up with the revised edition of the Code, noting that it would contribute to free, fair and transparent elections in 2019.
Present at the occasion were the creme de la creme of Nigerian media and their counterparts from across the world attending the IPI conference.
They included the owner of Channels Television, John Momoh; and the Chairman of NPAN and Publisher of THISDAY Newspaper, Nduka Obaigbena