Ford Foundation, Africa Soft Power Group Task Media on Objective Reportage on Insecurity

The Regional Director of Ford Foundation for West Africa, Dr. Catherine Chichi Aniagolu–Okoye, has tasked operators of traditional and social media to eschew sensationalism while reporting the insecurity assailing the West African sub-region in order to avoid instilling panic in the mind of the general public with stories that magnify perceptions that are far from reality.

Aniagolu-Okoye gave the task recently during a breakfast session on the “Role of Media in Strengthening Security in West Africa,” which was hosted by the Founder, Africa Soft Power Group (ASPG), Ms. Nkiru Balonwu, Lagos State, as part of the ASPG’s strategies for strengthening security in the sub-region.

Aniagolu-Okoye said: “Ford Foundation is focused on challenging inequality in West Africa with a particular focus on natural resources and gender based violence, but we have increasingly realised how the issue of insecurity intersects with almost every aspect of life, from trade, free movement of people, gender equality, natural resources and climate change, education, to living standards and so on.

“Indeed, our most basic human rights are deeply impacted, and therefore the foundation is also interested in intersectional solutions that help to improve collaboration between key actors in the ecosystem.”

Speaking during the breakfast session, Balonwu noted that the impact of insecurity was extensive and varied with human, business and investment angles that left trails of deaths, displacements and dislocations, abductions, wealth losses and escalation of costs of doing business, either in the locality, region, or affected industry.

She observed that dissemination of reports about insecurity were no longer the exclusive preserve of traditional media as citizens’   journalism now plays a huge role in the dissemination of insecurity stories, but often, sensational, without context, and no reference to data.
Balonwu said: “The role of the media and the methodology has to be more thoughtful and considered; therefore, this high-level meeting is important.

“With increased security we unlock potential for greater socio-economic growth, along with greater opportunities for domestic and international business.
“To realise this, collective action is necessary, and the media is one of the preeminent tools for inspiring buy-in and driving action.

“The media plays a critical role in connecting all stakeholders, amplifying the right messaging for peace building, and countering violent extremism, and providing needed platforms for dialogue and improved understanding.”

She stressed that the aim behind the media parley was to build an effective coordination of the dissemination of stories and reporting of insecurity issues because it has become clear that the greatest danger is distrust.

“It has become obvious that the matter of distrust must be effectively dealt with if security personnel are going to trust the media and vice versa.

“While everyone called for deeper collaboration between security agencies and the media, improvement in the knowledge and capacity of the media, constant communication between the media and security agencies, it was equally understood that the bigger opportunity was in tackling the underlying root causes of insecurity, including poverty, food insecurity, unemployment and youth disenfranchisement amongst others, and the gap in political leadership that must be filled as well,” she added.



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