…as COPBSMI host 1st Eket Senatorial District Social Media Hangout

New media practitioners including online publishers, bloggers and social media influencers, have been charged to be factual in their reportage and also embrace professional ethic of journalism in other to earn credibility among readers of online publications.

The charge was made last week Friday, December 17, 2021, at Media Academy, Eket, by critical stakeholders at the 1st Eket Senatorial District Social Media Hangout 2021, organized by Coalition of Online Publishers, Bloggers and Social Media Influencers, COPBSMI.

Speaking at the event, Member representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke, said though he has been a beneficiary of social media especially during his political campaign, but advised online publishers to embrace professional ethic of journalism rather than use the platform to peddle falsehood and abuse public office holders.

Luke who was represented at the event by his Media Aide, Aniekan Udofia, charged online publishers to verify news stories from reliable source before they rush to publish it. The former Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, urged youth in the state to make good use of social media platforms so as to improve on the quality of information they give to the public.

The Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission, AKISIEC, Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak, said Journalists have reneged on their core responsibility to report what is happening in the society, but rather focus more of their attention on personality reportage, therefore compromised ethic of journalism.

Ikoiwak therefore, advised Journalists to live up to their responsibility as watchdog of the society, so as to improve society and engender positive changes for the overall good of all.

A former Member of the House of Representatives representing Eket Federal Constituency, Rt. Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, while speaking on the topic: Impact of Social Media on Democracy in Nigeria, said social media has greatly influenced democracy and helped citizens participate in governance by sharing their opinions on issues that concern nation building. He noted that most office holders are now careful with the way they carry on their official functions as they can be called to order on the streets of social media.

He further stated that, one goal of democracy is to make the best possible decision for the country, saying to achieve this, there must be political tolerance and respect for all people irrespective of their political affiliations. He added that social media has a greater advantage over and above mainstream media, as such social media influencers must choose to belong to the elite band of people who toss the coin in the right direction.

Presenting a paper on New Media and Development Journalism, the Publisher of The Ink Newspaper, Nsibiet John, said development journalism and new media played vital role in creating, moulding and reflecting public opinion, thereby contribute to shaping political, economic and social development in the country.

He stressed that the ability of any user of the New Media to carry out development journalism does not in any way make them journalists, saying any one that may wish to practice journalism may wish to undergo professional training at the International Institute of Journalism, IIJ, or any related institution to acquire the needed skills.

He therefore advised new media practitioners (citizen journalists) to operate responsibly by being objective and fair in their reportage, follow a code of conduct, avoid plagiarism, learn the news writing format, etc, noting that New Media is an aid to Development Journalism as it will help to project the needs of the society by bringing attention to issues that are overlooked or under-represented by other media.

An ICT Expert, Engr. Ukpong Hope in his presentation noted that there are many opportunities on social media, urging youths to maximize these platforms to their advantage by developing app which will give them good money rather than run after politicians for peanut.

A good governance advocate, Erastus Afia, in his paper, said in terms of participation, people should be able to voice out their own opinions through legitimate organisations and representatives and the social media enables them to express such opinions and engage directly with their leaders.

“The platform that social media offers covers the youths, vulnerable sections of society, backward classes and minorities. Since the aim or end of good governance is to achieve a better society, social media can be deployed as a watch dog for information and monitoring of elected leaders.

“At the leve of accountability, social media can help ensure that individuals, organisations, institutions, private sector, governments and even civil society organisations are accountable to the public and institutional stakeholders.

The DPO of Eket Divisional Headquarters, CSP Sunday Digha, stressed the need for social media users to be alert as many are using the platforms for dubious activities. He counselled online payment to beware of fake news, considering the legal consequences.

In their separate goodwill messages, the former Chief Press Secretary to former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Usoro I. Usoro, a medical practitioner, Dr. Godwin Noah, a community leader, Al Mustapha Emem Edoho, Member Akwa Ibom State Technical Schools Board, Hon. Ekanem Willie, a Member of State Environmental Management Board, Elder Anietie Elijah and Ambassador Nsikan Matthew, all agreed that media in the past played vital roles in the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria, calling on Journalists to discharge their responsibility as watchdog of the society and be objective in their reportage so as to regain the confidence of the public.

Earlier, in his welcome remarks, the Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer, COPBSMI and Convener of Eket Senatorial District Social Media Hangout, Ubong David, said the idea about hangout is to bring social media practitioners and critical stakeholders under one roof to rub minds together on how to ensure that social media platforms are used positively.

He added that, the hangout will also bring unity among social media practitioners, promote positive engagements, create opportunities and sustainable wealth for youth on the social media space.

The event attracted people from all walks of life including businessmen, media professionals, bloggers, social media influencers, youth leaders, and was attended by CEO, MediaMall Ltd, Mr. Iniobong Akpan represented by Registrar, Media Academy, Mr. Hanson Godwin, Publisher of Ibom Update Newspaper, Mr. Ebong Umofia, Publisher of Bubbles News, Daniel Edon, among others.

Wisdom Bassey

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