By Godwin Utuedoye,
Journalists world over has been urged to pursue the truth in developing media contents and keep strictly to the ethics of Journalism in order to foster peace and unity in the society.
This admonition was given by Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Benedict Ukutegbe, Director of Social Communications, Catholic Diocese of Warri on Saturday, May 12, 2018 at the Catholic Mission Hall, Ughelli during the celebration of the 2018 World Day of Social Communications.
Rev. Fr. Dr. Benedict Ukutegbe, Director Social Communications, Catholic Diocese of Warri
during his welcome speech
Dr. Ukutegbe in his welcome address noted, that the upsurge of fake and false news especially in the new media has caused more harm than good to the society. He said Journalists as agents of development must strive to expose unethical practices and to be constructive in their criticisms.
Rev. Fr. Dr. Ukutegbe appealed to media practitioners to be fair in their reportage, to be accurate and to report every news unbiased. He maintained that news reportage is not only for conflicts or failure but also reporting success.
Cross section of participants
With the theme; “Fake News and Journalism for Peace: Implications for the Nigerian Church and Society”, (The truth will set you free), papers were presented by Communication Scholars on the impact of fake news and the damages it can cause the society.
The first paper which was presented by Rev. Fr. Peter Adidi, dwells on Truth and Fake News. In it he said, fake news is the deliverate spreading of false information online or in the main stream media (Traditional Media) with the aim of achieving specific goals, infleunce political decisions or serve economic interest.
From L-R,Rev. Fr. Dr. Ukutegbe presenting
certificate to one of the guest speakers, Rev. Fr.
Peter Mamuromu Adidi
Rev. Fr. Adidi referring to the book of John 8:32, observed that only the truth can set one free. He noted that antidote to the virus of falsehood is to be purofy by the truth, stating that peace is the true news.
He added that the theme of this year communication day was chosen by the Pope in order to promote professionalism in Journalism over and against fake news reportage.
The priest citing a case of fake news reported on October 6, 2012 where four innocent students of the University of Port-Harcourt were brutally murdered at Omuokiri-Aluu Community in Obia-Akpor Local Government Area of River State over a false allegation of a crime they did not commit, said through fake news, these young men lost their lives. He further gave example of fake news with a case which was widely reported in the social media of a girl alleged to have turn into snake at a particular hotel in Warri but it was later discovered it was a lie. The clergy stated that the deliberate fabrication of information with the intent to deceive, could have dangerous impacts on different sectors like the political, economic and the religious sector.
He advised Journalists to understand that for every news report, there is always ‘My side or your side of the story, the content of the news and the truth’.
Other speakers at the event includes a renowned broadcaster and media practitioner, Sir Onuvie Emore who spoke on, “The Impact of Technology on Media Ethics: Discerning the Truth Value of Reportage in Nigeria”.
The event which drew participants from all over the Catholic Diocese of Warri also had Rev. Fr’s. Cletus Enwefah, Peter Adidi, Godwin Orudje, Parish Priest, Saints. Peter and Paul Parish,Ughelli, Thaddeus Okpowodo, Editor-In- Chief of the Messenger of Peace Magazine/Missionary Newspaper and Rev. Fr. Dr. Ben Ukutegbe, Director of the Directorate of Social Communications, Catholic Diocese of Warri.
The event had an interactive session features question and answer session while participants were later presented with certificates of attendance.