Catholic media men and women have been called upon to champion the cause of responsible journalism in reporting violence and crises without jeopardising the integrity and sovereignty of the Nigerian nation.
The call was made by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah when he declared open the first 2017 plenary meeting of the Association of Diocesan/Religious Directors of Social Communications in Nigeria. The meeting was held in Sokoto, Sokoto State, recently.
The meeting which was attended by over thirty members of the association and the officers of the Directorate of Social Communications of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) had The Nigerian Media: The Ethics of Reporting Violence in Nigeria as its theme. Apart from the regular meeting and presentation of regional reports, the plenary also featured presentations on different aspects of reporting violence and crises with emphasis on respect for professional ethics, protection of the sovereignty and integrity of the citizens of the country.
According to Bishop Kukah, Catholic media men and women should give priority attention to the ethics of the profession by working within the stipulated confines while reporting activities in the country, be it violence or otherwise. He, however, noted that for this objective to be realised, there is the need for continuous formation and updating of their professional abilities and competencies to enable them to be conversant with modern techniques; be in agreement with the social communications ethical guidelines of the universal Church.
He noted the inherent dangers and some of the negative impact that comes about with social media especially in reporting violence and crises. The absence of control and the anonymity of bloggers pose serious challenges in this regard.
The local Ordinary of Sokoto Diocese stressed the need for collaboration between the Church hierarchy and the lay faithful in the dissemination of information either for evangelization or other purposes adding that it is important for the Bishops to hear more from the faithful.
Pointing out that the Church is blessed with many resources and workforce talents, Bishop Kukah stated that, “We need to educate ourselves more to enable us to create the ethical basis for journalists and the profession of journalism to be respected.”
Bishop Kukah urged Catholic communicators to be more forthcoming in reaching out with the position of the Church on both socio-economic, political and religious matters. The ultimate goal should be to educate and inform the people correctly and ensure stability, harmony and peaceful coexistence citizens in the country, irrespective of their differences.
In his welcome address, the host director, Rev. Fr. Sixtus Onuh of Sokoto Diocese expressed concern that the country is degenerating to the level where life is no longer valuable and sacrosanct. Fr Onuh added that because of this, there was, therefore, the need for Catholic media men and women to be more proactive and be cautious of what they report so as not to escalate existing violence or fan the embers of disunity and disintegration.
The Director of Social Communications at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Rev. Fr. Chris Anyanwu reiterated the importance of communication to the evangelization mission of the Church. Fr. Anyanwu expressed profound gratitude to Bishop Kukah for a knowledge enhancing gathering.